Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Writing a Memoir: Memories are Tricky, Excerpt

Memories fade over time.
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. Today, I'm excited to share an excerpt from my WIP (Work in Progress) Looking Through Rose-colored Glasses. I would appreciate feedback from the story. Please eave your comments below.

Memories are Tricky by J.Q. Rose
Memoirs are factual stories about someone's life. 'Memoir' is from the French word mémoire, which means 'reminiscence' or 'memory.' They are a part of the nonfiction literary genre—from study.com, Instructor Anne Casano
I bumped into a bit of a memory problem while writing my account of our trip from our home in Illinois to our new home in Michigan in 1975. Granted, that was a long time ago, so I wanted to get the story of our move correct. Afterall, as it says in the definition, the memoir is a “factual story”. But what if the facts are a bit murky and the people you ask about the scene have a different memory from your own? Memories fade over time.
This weekend we visited with my brother Jim and my sister-in-law, Sandy reminiscing about this move because they drove two packed cars in the caravan of four vehicles on that long drive north to Michigan.
Jim and Sandy followed me and I followed Gardener Ted. No surprise, along the route, we became separated from him. That was a problem since I had never driven the roads to Fremont by myself. You can imagine my anxiety without Ted ahead of me. I prayed we would meet together so we could re group.
In my memory, we met at the rest stop on 94 just over the Michigan border, but Ted remembered meeting at his favorite restaurant, Bill Knapp’s in Benton Harbor, MI. So after much discussion and fun trying to recall the trip, Jim and Sandy convinced me we actually met at the restaurant and not the rest area. I do have a memory of the restaurant, so I conceded to change my story.
My brother Jim chuckled when he said, “I think you should’ve told this story sooner so we could remember all the details.”
I’m sharing an excerpt of that story today—not the complete trip and definitely not the final draft as I work through the manuscript.
I just want you memoirists to check with folks who are involved in your stories and listen to their memories to see if you agree or not. Their recounting of the situation may spark even more memories for you and shed light on a situation.
You have the final say as how the story goes because, afterall, YOU are the author of your own life. Nobody can tell it better than you.

Chapter 5--Moving North to Michigan
We traveled to our new home in West Michigan.

Gripping the steering wheel of our dark green 1970 Ford Torino, I felt anxious about the responsibility of driving the eight hour trip to Fremont. I would have my daughter and mother-in-law in the car with me. Would we get lost? Would we get in a wreck? Would the weather turn into a blizzard? After all, we were headed to snow country.
My stomach was in knots as I drove one of the four vehicles loaded to the max in our moving cavalcade, feeling like the Clampett family from the ‘60’s Beverly Hillbillies TV series. In 1975, we had no access to cell phones, GPS, personal walkie-talkies, or radios to keep us in touch as we motored along the highways. I had traveled to Fremont three times, but I had never driven the entire route. I was kicking myself for not paying better attention to the various highways and turns on the previous trips. The route was a puzzle for me.
I thanked God Ted’s mother, Mildred, could accompany me. Mildred took delight in entertaining and caring for one-year-old baby Sara and she even loved to change diapers!  I had no worries about our daughter making the trip with Grandma Glaser with us.
Children’s car seats were not used and seat belt laws didn’t exist in 1975 in our part of the country. So Mildred held Sara in her lap for the trip or laid her in the back seat for a nap. Today’s parents probably can’t imagine that.
 “Are they still behind us?” I asked her an hour into the drive. Mildred sat in the passenger seat entertaining Sara with some plastic toys on a ring. She hung on to Sara and turned her bulky frame to look out the side window.
Of course, she couldn’t see the rest of our caravan any better than I could with a big semi-truck in the way. I tried to swallow away the panic I felt after losing sight of my brother Jim following me in our 1969 Chevrolet Impala. My sister-in-law Sandy with her toddler daughter, Melissa, trailed Jim in their car. Ted led the parade in a BIG U-Haul truck pulling a trailer crammed with furniture and all our earthly belongings.
Jim and Sandy had never made the trip, so I depended on following Ted and they depended on following me to our destination. You would think I wouldn’t lose sight of a big truck, right? But that was not the case.
About two hours into the trip, we hit Chicago traffic. I tried to keep behind Ted, but that wasn’t possible. He disappeared in the sea of cars and trucks. So I just kept driving the route we were on and looking for signs for the next turn-off.  I knew if I hit I-94 I’d be on the right road and would eventually make it to Benton Harbor just about 20 miles over the Michigan border. We had made plans to stop at the Bill Knapp Restaurant, his favorite place to eat on the route to Fremont. I was pretty sure he would remember since it meant a good meal awaited us.
I finally loosened my grip on the steering wheel when I pulled into the restaurant with Jim and Sandy who had caught up with me after we passed through Chicago’s traffic. I spotted the big truck parked there and my heart quieted a bit. We were nearly halfway to our new home!
Ted’s smiling face and sparkling eyes revealed his relief and excitement when he greeted us as we opened the car doors. “I didn’t know how long to wait because I didn’t know if you were ahead or behind me.” I was worrying so much about my making the drive, I never thought how he must have felt with all the responsibility of driving a rented truck and the safety of all of us.
We were delighted to have some time together to discuss the trip so far and to relax over the tasty fried chicken dinners made famous by Bill Knapp. We headed north again and stayed together for awhile until we came to Holland, Michigan. I thought I knew the way. “I thought I knew the way” are the salient words here. I realized I didn’t when the turn-off I took routed us through downtown Holland instead of bypassing the city. Jim and Sandy followed right along behind me. My heart bounced when I spotted the signs that pointed back to US 31. I finally breathed again because I knew Fremont was only an hour north and I would actually have a sign on 31 that pointed to the road to take us to Fremont!
My eyes searched the highway roadside as we approached Fremont. When the Fairview Floral sign loomed ahead,  I startled Mildred when I shouted, “There it is!” with the same excitement as if I’d opened a brand new Christmas gift. We all followed Ted into the parking lot of the flower shop. Everyone exited their cars and gathered together to take in the site of the chalet style building and its greenhouses. Finally, we could share our new life with part of our family. 
* * *
Have you moved everything you own to a new location? 
How did you feel? How was your trip to your new home?
Please share your experience in the comments below. 
Thanks for stopping in today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Is a Writers Group for You by J.Q. Rose, New Release

My Very Special Writers Group
L to R: JQ Rose, WS Gager, Joselyn Vaughn, and Tess Grant

Is a Writers Group for You? by J.Q. Rose

When I re-read the title of this post, I thought it really sounded harsh. Let me explain. I don't hate my critique partners. In fact, I love them for all their encouragement and support for my writing projects. I would not be a published author without them.

We meet every week in the summer at a local coffee shop. We spread out on the biggest table we can find because there are four of us, eat sweets, and try the different coffees and beverages. Not only do we share our submissions, but also family news, work news, etc. And sprinkled throughout the meeting, are a lot of laughs and just pure joy. 

One of our members was having trouble with stress headaches a couple of weeks ago. She reported to us that after the meeting her headache was gone! 

The Golden Rule of Writers Groups: Treat fellow writers with respect and critique each submission as you would like your submissions treated. Be kind and gentle.

Brainstorming is an essential part of the critique group's meeting.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles
One of the highlights of our meetings is the brainstorming. I love when we throw around ideas to help solve problems in our manuscripts,  develop a character, decide how to kill off the villain, and more. I sometimes check the room to see if any patrons are eavesdropping when we talk about guns, poisons, ways to murder characters!! I hope they realize we are only using our imaginations!

Our group meets to offer critiques of submissions we bring to share. I like the way we do the submissions. We just bring one copy of the chapter--double-spaced--and pass it around to the members. We have four or five in our group at each meeting. We save paper and ink by not making a copy for each member. Also, all comments and discovered typos are on one copy. So much easier to look through when editing when we get time to make the changes (or NOT make the changes. It's completely up to the author to choose how they want to use the feedback.)

***Other groups meet to share their writing but members don't offer critiques of the work unless the author asks for help. 

I love my crit group for offering feedback in my story such as 
  • The mc begins eating her burrito but never ordered it from anyone.
  • A joke or a scene doesn't work
  • The character's name is Brian in previous chapters and Herb in the present submission. Of course, I have to laugh when they look up with questioning eyes--Who's Herb? (Last week I had missed a few chapters of one gal's story and was reading about Hank. I decided not to ask "who's Hank," so I kept reading. When I read "Hank trotted off with a saddle pack on his back," I laughed out loud. He was a horse, not a man!)
  • The same information is repeated several times. Once is enough.
  • The action is going too fast.
  • The scene needs the mc's internal thoughts
I'm sure you've had similar experiences. And I bet you appreciate the constructive criticism as much as I do.

So what do I hate about a crit group?  For instance, I submitted a chapter where the bad guy and his sister had to go to police headquarters. I had them together in the same room to give their statements. The give and take in the conversation was good, and the body language was fine. However, they informed me, this is not correct police procedure. The police would never allow them to be together to give a statement. Aaarghhhh. That's what I hate--I had to re-write the entire scene. 

So I put on my big girl panties, thanked them for finding this flaw, and re-wrote the chapter in a different setting. To tell the truth, it turned out to be much improved over the first attempt.

Not only can a crit group help you in writing your story, push you to complete it, and submit it to a publisher, but the group can market their books together too. We have made presentations to local groups and shared opportunities to promote our books at different venues. 

In this big world of publishing, it's good to know you have friends who will help you through the roller coaster ride of success and insecurity. Everyone needs someone to be a supporter to applaud your victories and be there for your rejections.
MORE INFORMATION--If you are considering joining or beginning a group or decide if a writers group is for you, then click here for my blog post published in February 2017--Critique Groups Points to Ponder. OR watch the video below.

Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? What has been your experience? Please leave a comment below.

Remember to follow the J.Q. Rose blog by submitting your email address in the box at the top. You won't miss a blog post AND you won't get spammed by the Focused on Story blog.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online...
 J.Q. Rose
J. Q. Rose Author Facebook Page 
J. Q. Rose Amazon Author Page 

Fellow writers group memberJoselyn Vaughn just released her latest sweet romance, For the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies. Congratulations, Joselyn!
B&BFor the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies 
by Joselyn Vaughn
Sweet Romance--delightful and entertaining
Back of the BookFor the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies:
Fighting for an endangered butterfly is what makes Jane Meeth tick and Tall Oaks Development is her biggest adversary. Little does she know that the CEO of the company, Marshall Linden, is none other than the handsome hiker she meets while running on the trail.
After Marshall discovers evidence of Bigfoot, he wants to establish a sanctuary to protect the creature, but he must keep it secret from the protesters of his Tall Oaks projects. He didn’t count on falling in love with Jane making his plans nearly impossible.
When an environmental disaster threatens both of their dreams, they must throw away their prejudices to make the world safe for Bigfoots and butterflies. 

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KNLDD9

VIDEO: Writers Groups

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Two New Releases Just in Time for the New Year from Ellen Jacobson and Joselyn Vaughn, Reviews

Focused on Story Blog
J.Q. Rose
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog.

Exciting week this week because I'm spotlighting two new releases for a brand new year! My two talented author friends, Ellen Jacobson and Joselyn Vaughn, offer their fun, entertaining books for you to enjoy in 2019. Take a peek.

Bodies in the Boatyard by Ellen Jacobson
A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #2
Back of the Book: Bodies in the Boatyard

Selling your house and moving onto a rundown sailboat—not a dream come true. Finding dead bodies in the boatyard—a total nightmare.

Mollie McGhie loves her beachfront cottage. When her husband announces that he wants to sell the house, downsize, and move onto their dilapidated sailboat, she’s not impressed.

When the boat starts leaking, she secretly hopes it will sink. Instead, they haul her out of the water and into the boatyard. Fixing the boat up is bad enough, but when Mollie finds someone has been killed nearby, things get even worse.

Mollie takes matters into her own hands and investigates the mysterious death in the boatyard, along with her adorable feline companion, Mrs. Moto. While she searches for clues, she meets more of the quirky characters who live in the small Floridian town of Coconut Cove, learns about sea turtles, overcomes her fear of public speaking, and, of course, eats way too many sugary treats.

Can Mollie catch the killer before someone else ends up dead?


This second book in the Mollie McGhee series does not disappoint. Jacobson’s humor shines throughout the story in the funny personalities and relationships of the characters. The location and boating knowledge is authentic since she actually lives on a boat in real life. The ending remained a mystery until the last few pages for me. If you want to escape from the winter winds or catch the sun on the beach, dive into this warm, entertaining cozy mystery that takes place in sunny Florida. I received an ARC for the book and am voluntarily submitting a book review.


Available in ebook, paperback and large print at:

* * *

B&BFor the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies 
by Joselyn Vaughn
Pre-order for release on Wednesday, January 9 

Back of the BookFor the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies:
Fighting for an endangered butterfly is what makes Jane Meeth tick and Tall Oaks Development is her biggest adversary. Little does she know that the CEO of the company, Marshall Linden, is none other than the handsome hiker she meets while running on the trail.
After Marshall discovers evidence of Bigfoot, he wants to establish a sanctuary to protect the creature, but he must keep it secret from the protesters of his Tall Oaks projects. He didn’t count on falling in love with Jane making his plans nearly impossible.
When an environmental disaster threatens both of their dreams, they must throw away their prejudices to make the world safe for Bigfoots and butterflies. 

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KNLDD9T

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

IWSG Blog Hop: I Love Curious Readers, Booksigning Questions, 2018 Goals Results

Happy New Year 2019 
from J.Q. Rose
IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.

Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop! 

Always on the first Wednesday of the month.

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link: 
 Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. Click here to sign-up to join.

January 2 question -
What are your favorite and least favorite questions
 people ask you about your writing?

I can't say I have favorite and least favorite questions from people. I'm just happy when someone asks any question about my writing because that person shows interest and could be a possible fan!. 

If someone makes a comment about one of my books, usually it's to tell me they liked it or they were surprised I wrote a spicy story! The eyebrows shoot up to their scalp line and the shock on the reader's face is priceless. You can see the wheels whirring in their brain about how a woman my age and from such a conservative background could write about murder, mystery, horror, romance. LOL Others are amazed I wrote an entire novel. Many assure me they're going to write a book..someday.

I love signing books when requested, but I always wonder if I wrote something inside that the reader will cherish or think how clever. I worry about sounding foolish or trite. 

After I've signed my book, I always think my handwriting could have been better. I have a horrible time writing on a level line. Somehow the words always float upward. 

Do I sound insecure about book signings? Yes, I am!

What has been your experience when doing book signings? 
* * *
Photo courtesy of rawpixel at Pixabay

In December 2018 I actually listed my goals for 2018. Today I am going to be honest with you and list them AND admit whether I hit the goal or not.

My Writing Goals for 2018 by J.Q. Rose RESULTS

1. Complete my memoir, Looking Through Rose-Colored Glasses (working title) Not complete, but coming along, In fact, the first chapter made the shortlist in a contest this past December.
2. Post FB Live videos on my J.Q. Rose, Author page. YES and it is so much fun!
3. Gather 150 more followers who "like" my J.Q. Rose, Author page. Nope, not even close. Any ideas on how to get more likes?
4. Install a landing page on my website to help build an email list. NO. I have tried and tried to figure this out but cannot discover how to connect the free gift to the reader.
5. Plan a blog tour and visit my hosts this winter to give away prizes and shout about my latest mystery, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard. YES and I loved hopping around cyberspace and getting to know my blog hosts and readers. 

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard
Paranormal Mystery
Click here to order at these digital stores
There they are in black and white. This makes me more accountable by sharing it with readers. I'm sure I'll be able to mark off these four items from the list as "Done!" by January 1, 2019. Well, at least I accomplished 2.5 of the goals. 

Be sure to follow the Focused on Story Blog 
so I can keep you updated on my 2019 projects!

Thanks so much for stopping in today.