Monday, December 20, 2010

Students rock the Simple Gifts globe project


I just got the best present in my e-mail box! A 4th/5h grade class in the Seattle area just completed the papier-mâché globe project from Simple Gifts. Over the course of three days, they layered gooey strips of paper and dried each layer overnight. When done, they had a cool globe that could be used as an ornament. Jerry, the awesome teacher, said that his kids were elated with how they turned out, and super excited to take them home. Jerry personally liked the project because it wasn't "Christmas" themed but could be used for the holidays if desired. Check out the crafty madness!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ready to write YOUR book this year?

I get asked constantly for publishing advice. Constantly. (I'm convinced everyone has a book idea.) Sometimes I mind, mostly I don't. I love, love, love encouraging other writers or folks who simply have a good idea and motivation. But it's hard to find time to meet for coffee with everyone. To that end, fellow author and former publishing executive Kerry Colburn (yep, she gets her own share of queries) and I have teamed up to create a variety of talks, classes, and consultation opportunities to help you realize your publishing dream (or New Year's resolution!).

First, we've partnered with the amazing Hotel 1000 to bring you a series of talks to inspire, prepare, and help you navigate through the publishing process. Called
“The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry,” this lively three-part series will illuminate each step of the publishing process from turning an idea into a book proposal to effectively distributing, marketing and selling a book once it’s been published. The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, January 13, 7-9 p.m.:
Join us as we help you “Prepare to Get Published.” This talk will focus on how to find an idea and then grow it into a viable proposal. Attendees will learn what makes a good book idea; how to position themselves as a potential author; various ways a book can take shape; what publishers look for in a book proposal; how to research the marketplace and target publishers, editors and literary agents. To purchase tickets for this event, please click here.

Thursday, February 17, 7-9 p.m.:
Join us in our next installment as we discuss “Secrets of a Successful Proposal.” This talk will focus on what makes publishers take notice of one book idea over another when they see hundreds of proposals each week. Attendees will learn insider tips as we draw on our decades of industry experience to share the secrets of a winning proposal—and they’ll leave with the tools they need to get their proposal under way. To purchase tickets for this event, please click here.

Thursday, March 24, 7-9 p.m.:
Join us in our third installment as we discuss “Navigating the World of Publishing.” We will share our dual perspectives, drawing from our experience as in-house publishing executives and successful authors. Attendees will learn how a book goes from a proposal to finished product; hear publishing options including e-books and self-publishing; gain insight about royalties and contracts; sales and marketing; catalogs and publication dates, and more. To purchase tickets for this event, please click here.

“The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry” series will take place once a month at downtown Seattle's Hotel 1000. The ticket price is $40 per person/event or $99 for the entire 3-part series. On the evening of the event, attendees can check-in with the host at the hotel's BOKA KITCHEN + BAR to receive a free appetizer with purchase of an entrée. Make an evening of it! Links for tickets to individual events are available in the above descriptions and the complete series can be purchased here. We hope to see you at one or all three of these fun and informative evenings. We're ready to help you move your publishing dreams along!


Hands-On Workshops
We are also offering several 3-hour intensive workshops to help you develop a proposal that will demand attention from publishers. These Saturday morning workshops will be held in a private room at June restaurant in Madrona and class size is limited to 15.

Craft a Winning Proposal,
1/29/11 and 3/5/11, 9:30am–12:30pm, $109
“‘Craft a Winning Proposal’ is a great starting place in the quest to write a book. With lots of ideas, thoughts, concepts, and questions running around my brain, this session has helped me to envision a roadmap and plan to actually get going on my book!”
—Cliff

“Thanks for presenting Publishing in English. For the longest time, I thought you needed to learn a special brand of industry-Greek to understand how it all works.”
—Mike

This workshop was such a resounding hit that we’re bringing it back for the folks who couldn’t make the first one. During the 3-hour workshop, we detail the key elements of a non-fiction book proposal, providing handouts and sample proposals for handy reference. The interactive style and intimate venue will allow for questions and Kerry & Jen’s feedback on your specific book idea. And not to worry: whether you have an idea nailed down or are still considering the possibilities, you’ll leave this energizing morning armed with the ability to create a focused, salable proposal.

Register for the 1/29/11 session via PayPal
here.
Register for the 3/5/11 session via PayPal
here.

Polishing Your Proposal,
2/12/11, 9:30am–12:30pm, $109 This more advanced workshop is the place to fine-tune your proposal-in-progress and get it out the door. As former publishing executives and successful nonfiction authors, Jen & Kerry have the experience and the know-how to finesse key details and make your proposal really shine. The intimate size will allow for questions, troubleshooting your specific problems, and talking through any sticky areas that might be holding you back. We will also scrutinize your title and subtitle, talk through the elements of a kick-ass cover letter, and review how to target the right editors and publishers for your book. Attendees are invited to bring in their particular challenges to share and discuss. If your proposal is under way but you need some professional, targeted guidance to finish it, this is the workshop for you. You’ll leave ready to wrap up—and sell!—your winning proposal!

Register for the 2/12/11 workshop via PayPal
here.

Two-on-One Proposal Critique,
by appointment Deemed “incredibly thorough” by one of our clients, we offer a unique take on the review process. Both of us will review your proposal, making comments in the document and creating an overall assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, missing elements, and overall organization of your proposal. If you’ve got a proposal that’s almost there, we can help you get it into submission-ready shape. E-mail us for more information.

But wait, there’s more!
If you don’t have a proposal at the point of review, we are available to talk through any challenges or questions you may have. Contact us if you’d like to book us for a 90-minute in-person (and yes, you get both of us!) consultation about your project. You can find out more details about all of these talks, workshops, and consultations at our blog,
The Business of Books.

(photo: creativeclass.com)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The party's off, but the celebrating is on

I love a good party and I love to be the center of attention, so you’d think that I’d eat up hosting a big shindig.

Yes and no.

I love creating a great environment for friends to mingle. I love multi-tasking. But between answering the door, introducing guests to each other, and mixing tasty drinks, I sort of forego any meaningful or lengthy conversations.

So instead of throwing a kick-ass open house for the holidays, I decided to kick it with smaller groups of friends. I’m having micro-parties, gatherings of a few pals at a time. And because times are tough, I’m making them a potluck of sorts: I supply the main dish and happily accept apps, snacks, desserts, and drinks. The important thing is not the food (although my spicy lasagna is something to write home about), it’s the friends. And by taking the focus off being an impeccable hostest (that’s the hostess with the mostest combined), I don’t have to: clean the entire house from top to bottom, decorate like I’m Buddy the Elf, shell out hundreds of dollars for booze and artfully arranged cheese plates, send and monitor the evite, and create playlists from my current favorite music (is it just me, or is Bruno Mars dreamy?). By changing up my holiday experience, I’m buying back hours of my time, time that could best be spent in the company of others.

How are you downsizing the holidays? I'd love to hear.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Downsizing the holidays...in a good way

How did it get to be December 3? And why am I always surprised to find myself behind the tinsel-covered 8-ball when the holidays are nigh?

Last year was hard. I didn’t have a lot of funds for gifts (let alone shipping), and I stayed put in Seattle rather than visiting family in Michigan (or other exotic locales like North Platte, Nebraska and Dahlonega, Georgia). While it’s been a year of personal and professional growth, not much has changed when it comes to Christmas. I’m still financially strapped and I’m not getting patted down by a TSA agent anytime soon.

But I’m not throwing in the towel on the holidays. I still plan on connecting with friends and family in meaningful ways and will be offering up some suggestions all month for you to do the same.

Pulling out a few questions from Beyond the Family Tree is a smart way to change the conversation and the dynamic when you’re tempted to start the snarky monologue in your head or withdraw from the conversation in favor of a Bravo marathon. Try asking older relatives how they celebrated the holidays when they were kids or what their favorite gift was. And ask about high school crushes or how they became a crazy train fanatic (or maybe that’s just my dad). Capture all the goodness on a Flip camera or your iPhone 4 for posterity (and for next year's holiday video, another perfect gift).

Simple Gifts, the other book I published in 2010, features all sorts of gifts you can make on the cheap and on the run. It makes a great gift in itself if you’ve got crafty folks on your list, but before you gift it, crack it open and make a batch of salted caramels, felted wine sleeves, candles, or magnets.

To help you out and prove just how easy these projects are, I’m planning on posting a video tutorial of a craft this month: which would you prefer to see—candles (one of which is featured on the book’s cover) or magnets?

What traditions have you incorporated into your holidays?

Next up: Micro-partying!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Free workshop & wine this Thursday, 11/11!

As the holidays approach, my first thought is always, "What is tinsel doing in Bartell's already?" My second thought is, "Aw, nuts." While I love, love, love the traditions and gatherings and waves of love that sweep through the holiday season, I seem to be behind the 8-ball when it comes to gathering up appropriate, meaningful gifts.


Sound familiar?

So last year, I seriously switched on my DIY light and made candles, caramels, magnets, pajama bottoms, baby blankets, and assorted other goodies for friends and family. I only spent a couple hundred dollars, leaving me with a generous budget for booze when it came time for my holiday open house.

While I was in Chicago and Michigan this summer, I showed a few friends and family members how to make nifty magnets out of old maps and greeting cards. And they were off! My stepmom hustled me over to Michael's so we could pick out materials so she could whip these up after I skipped town. I think I know what's in my stocking this year...

So, take a deep breath. You can make a lot of gifts this year AND have fun in the process. On Thursday, Nov. 11, I'll be showing you the secrets of these easy-peasy magnets while also signing copies of Simple Gifts. And did I mention there's wine? Come to the free event at Ballard's Secret Garden Books and I promise that you'll have several people crossed off your list within the week. And you know, a signed copy of Simple Gifts makes a grand gift for any crafter in your life.

What: Simple Gifts booksigning and free make 'n' take workshop
Where: Secret Garden Books, 2214 NW Market St., Seattle
When: Thursday, November 11, 6:30pm

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Get my Cowboy Cookie recipe

I shared an exclusive recipe with Fresh-Picked Seattle. The only cookie I ever make is my grandmother's Cowboy Cookie, a chocolate-chip oatmeal bit of perfection that, when paired with a cold glass of milk, is sure to make your day. Get the recipe here, and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The High Bar with Warren Etheredge

A couple of months ago I did an interview with Warren Etheredge on his new show, The High Bar. While sipping on gin and tonics, I talked about my need to connect with family and shared strategies from Behind the Family Tree for how to better communicate with your own family. Check it out for a few tips and giggles.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Simple Gifts book signing this week!

If you're in Seattle and need some root vegetables and a book of 50 kick-ass gift projects, look no further than the Queen Anne Farmer's Market! I'll be there this Thursday, Sept. 23, from 5-6pm signing copies of Simple Gifts at the Queen Anne Books table. I'll bring along a few of the book's projects so you can see exactly what you can make quickly and inexpensively. As evidenced by the Halloween candy in my grocery store, the holidays are afoot so you'd best get crackin' with the craftin'.

I am; therefore, I write

In case you'd like to know more about this gal's writing process, I did a Q&A with the lovely, talented (and U-Michigan alum) Colleen Newvine Tebeau, who's a writer and market research specialist for a major news organization. I've always sort of glossed over the writing process when asked, and this is the first time I come clean about how frickin' hard it all is. That said, I also talk about what jazzes me and why I continue to do it.

Check it out here. And let me know what you think? What's the biggest joy/challenge for you when writing? Or heck, even in life?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Goodbye, Oakdale


I can't stop crying. Seriously. I keep losing it every time I turn on the TV. I just watched The Early Show's retrospective of As the World Turns, which goes off the air today after 54 years. I've been in denial about this day for months. I kept thinking some deus ex machina would swoop down and sponsor the show after Proctor & Gamble pulled the plug ( like Margo did when her stepdad had a terminal illness).

No such luck.

The Bold & the Beautiful is just too ridiculous for me to take to, so I'm left up the TV creek without a paddle.

But between the tears, I did manage to write a couple of pieces that sum up why I loved the show so very much.

Check out my humorous slideshow over at Salon, where I detail life lessons learned from a daily dose of ATWT.

Then on the Huffington Post, I talk about how the show impacted me as I moved from a gawky pre-teen to a successful career gal, all the while looking for cues from the show's themes, characters, and storylines.

Goodbye, Oakdale. You have been loved and you will be missed.

(Video: a recent tearjerker: Barbara's wedding to Henry, in which all the key players are haunted by the specter of Bab's ex and Henry's father James Stenbeck.)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Inside the Book Business

Join Kerry Colburn and me for an informative and entertaining evening as we—two authors and former publishing execs with nearly 40 books and 40 years between us—demystify the publishing process from start to finish. The talk will include how to hone and pitch your proposal so it rises out of the slush pile—and so your finished book will fly off the shelves.

Learn the scoop about royalties, agents, the editorial process, editors, and more. If you are thinking about writing a book, have one that needs to be sold, want marketing ideas for an already published book, or are simply interested in learning about the publishing world, this evening will be invaluable, not to mention fun.

Who: Jen & Kerry
What: Everything you wanted to know about the book business but were afraid to ask
When: September 29, 7pm
Where: Hotel Andra, 2000 4th Ave., Seattle, WA
Why: You've got a book idea, don't you?
How: $40. Purchase tickets at brownpapertickets.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Support your local farmers, bookstores, and authors!

On Thursday, September 23 from 5–6 pm, I'll be hanging out and signing books at the Queen Anne Books booth at the Queen Anne Farmers' Market (at W. Crockett & Queen Anne Ave. N). Buy your root vegetables and artisan cheeses, support your local farmers and bookstore, and pick up a copy of Simple Gifts while you're at it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Simple Gifts contributor kudos: Shanon Lyon

It takes a crafty village to make a book. I wanted to give a shout-out to the lovely and ingenious Shanon Lyon, a professional writer and author herself, who showed up to my friend's birthday party with the cutest knitted wine sleeve. She told me it was made out of a sweater she accidentally shrunk. A trip to Goodwill later and I was in business. In fact, I even found the same striped Gap sweater she had used for hers! What are the odds?


What have you made out of stuff lying around the house?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Come visit the Facebook fan forum for TIWTPITF

My humor blog, Things I Want to Punch in the Face, now has a Facebook fan page. I realized that the comments section of the blog really only scratches the surface of the things you'd really like to beat down. Come visit the PITF Facebook community and join the curmudgeonly confab.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kick off your summer reading program with Simple Gifts

Simple Gifts hit the market this month and I'm already hearing great things from folks who are trying out everything from the salted caramel recipe to the toy top project (never underestimate the magic of a classic toy). If you do dig the book, I'd love it if you'd consider posting a review on amazon—they really do help.

And if you aren't in a position to purchase a book at this time (it is $14.39 on amazon, fyi), you can request it from your local library. Go to this handy website, find your local library's site, and place a request.

I used to love the summer reading program at the Sodus Township Library. I'd rip through 10 books at a time. I think Mrs. Ribecki started putting a cap on the number of books that could be checked out at a time because I was so ambitious about it. I loved the library so much that I worked in the children's department of the Benton Harbor Public Library when I was a teenager. There, I threaded filmstrips of The Lorax and The Creature from the Black Lagoon and listened to kids report back on the books they were reading for the summer program. These days, I'm not quite as competitive with my reading regimen, but I still manage to take out a pile of books from the library each time I breeze through my branch.

If you make a project from the book, shoot me a photo of you and the finished gift. I'd love to see your handiwork!

(photo of ticket garland project: Gregg Snodgrass)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Reader's Digest names me one of America's funniest bloggers!

In its June/July 2010 issue, Reader's Digest names the four funniest bloggers in America and, yep, I made the list for Things I Want to Punch in the Face! And yep, I'm geeked!

As you may know, TIWTPITF came out of my "Bad January," a suck-ass eight days I experienced last year. I like to think of myself as economical and creative, so I turned my grief and irritation into something that felt productive, cathartic, and even healing.

So I went on a rant, one that has lasted 17 months and shows no signs of slowing down.

But I'm still a nice person. Really. When I'm writing a first-person story or blog post, the "I" that I relate to you is not the real me, or rather, it's the me that I choose to share with you. Chuck Klosterman put it this way (in an essay about the Unabomber in Eating the Dinosaur): "I enjoying writing about my life, but I don't like people knowing anything about me." I don't mind people knowing things about me, but I can't stand when they assume things about me based on what I choose to write about myself. If you only read TIWTPITF, you may assume that I'm a hateful curmudgeon or a bitchy cynic. You may also think I'm funnier than a PT Cruiser full of clowns.

I am, but that's not all I am.

If you read my craft books (like the just-published Simple Gifts), you may conclude that I knock out homemade masterpieces like a machine and that I'm sweet as pie.

I'm currently crafted out. And many of my creations look, to put it kindly, shot in the ass.

However, I just might be the nicest person you've had the pleasure to meet.

Writing about myself has proven to be tricky. I'm a lot of things, I like a lot of things. The current wisdom would be to pick a lane and develop my brand. That would be smart, sure, but it might also make me claw my face off. I like addressing all facets of my personality and writing about my many interests. I like being nimble and able to switch gears. And I sure as hell like punching things in the face. That's a safe assumption.

Check out the Reader's Digest story and congrats to the other bloggers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hugo House Writer's Conference this weekend

You probably already know about this but I just can't help beating a dead horse.

Join me during the Richard Hugo House's first writer's conference. Held over the weekend of May 21-23, the theme of the weekend is Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century. They've created three "tracks"—Publishing Choices, Self Promotion, and Writer's Toolbox—that are designed to help you learn more about publishing and promotion, while honing your craft.

I'm going to lead a workshop on Sunday, May 23, that will help you put together a winning proposal. "The 7 Elements of a Successful Nonfiction Book Proposal" will break down all the components that go into creating a proposal that will win over publishers.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Black Is Not Your Color (And It's Not Your Brand)" Workshop on May 19

Check out this great workshop being offered by my friend Darcey Howard. I did a one-on-one phone session with her and it totally transformed how I view my personal style.

By popular demand, this workshop is being offered in both
Seattle and Manhattan at midday & evening times

Darcey Howard
"Personal Branding Through Appearance"

Being your brand takes guts.
Owning your value takes guts.
How do you create a brand that reflects your value and uniqueness in a sea of competition?
You have be ready to own it.
Are you ready to own your brand and stand out from the crowd?
_______________________________________

"Our society wants you to fit in so it can ignore you." —Seth Godin
___________________________

As an expert in building brand integrity for businesses and individuals, Darcey Howard, Personal Branding & Style Consultant, will provide the tools, tips and guidelines you can put into place immediately to make sure you stand out in a crowd versus just fitting in.

Come away with...
  • Clarity of how your personal brand is conveyed and perceived both visually and professionally.
  • Tools for bridging the gap between how you feel, how you look and how you sell.
  • Knowledge on how to leverage your USP (Unique "Style" Proposition) to attract ideal customers.
  • Guidelines to identify, build and maintain your personal brand and leverage it in your business.
Don't miss this opportunity to get what your personal brand needs to not be ignored. Cost is just $40.00.

Join Darcey Howard, founder of Personal Branding Through Appearance & LifeStyled, Ltd., on May 19th for one of two scheduled times, either 12:30 pm or 6:30 pm for this 90-minute program.
_____________________

"Black is Not a Color (And It's Not Your Brand)" Workshop

May 19, 2010
12:30–2:00 pm
Or
6:00–7:30 pm

1823 Terry Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 623-8900
______________________
To sign up or for more information, please contact Darcey at darcey@darceyhoward.com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Be Thrifty on April 28

I'm thrilled to be filling in for the hilarious and insightful Warren Etheredge tomorrow night at the Hotel Andra for a timely event brought to you by Kim Ricketts. I'll be doing a Q&A with Califia Suntree and discussing her spanking new book, Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less.

During the evening (which kicks off at 6:30), receive a signed copy of the book, appetizers, the conversation with Califia, and the chance to chat with her (and me, if you're so inclined). For $35, it sounds like a nifty, thrifty deal to me! If you are in Seattle, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet an author in a casual, fun atmosphere. You can order your ticket at Brown Paper Tickets.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Write a kick-ass book proposal...and so much more

Join me during the Richard Hugo House's first writer's conference. Held over the weekend of May 21-23, the theme of the weekend is Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century. They've created three "tracks"—Publishing Choices, Self Promotion, and Writer's Toolbox—that are designed to help you learn more about publishing and promotion, while honing your craft. I'm going to lead a workshop on Sunday, May 23, that will help you put together a winning proposal. "The 7 Elements of a Successful Nonfiction Book Proposal" will break down all the components that go into creating a proposal that will win over publishers.

Hugo House is an amazing hub and resource for writers in Seattle. I encourage you to check it out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Simple Gifts is hitting the market soon!

I just got my advance copy of Simple Gifts and after a long, long, looonnnggggg journey, I have to tell you…

It's gorgeous! Since you can only see pictures of the cover, let me tell you a little about the physical book. It's 160 pages of full-color goodness (the talented Gregg Snodgrass took the photos and Michaela Murphy lent her talents as stylist and model; she really is a good woman to know). The matte-laminated hardcover has spot lamination over the title and the paper stock is thick and yummy. The book feels as good as it looks, which is saying something.

The book has a long history, which I won't go into. But it was originally conceived as an illustrated book and when Voyageur Press decided to publish it, it became a book with loads of photography. Which meant I had to make all 50 projects look really faboo for the photo shoot. I can't even tell you all the random places I had to pick up materials, tools, and props but I will say that the men at Home Depot readily helped me cut down a slab of pine so I could make a kick-ass tool box (it may have helped that I was wearing a dress).

The reason that the materials were so random is that the book is chockablock with projects for everyone on your list—mom, grandpa, newborns, kids, pets, hostesses, co-workers, significant others, and anyone you really, really like—and they range from easy and quick to "Hi, can I borrow your table saw?" The projects assume you're a beginner and walk you through knitting, sewing, felting, candle-making, wood-working, hammering, embroidering, book-binding, papier mâché, découpage, cooking, baking, and everything in between. And, heck, if you don't make anything else in the book, the salted caramel recipe is worth the $20 by itself (but with 50 crafts, each project only costs 40 cents!).

I'll be sharing more about Simple Gifts as the books roll in and events get scheduled, but I had to gush a little (and let you know that you can preorder your copy now). I'm always a bit giddy whenever the first real advance arrives.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Skamania Lodge event cancelled

I just wanted to let y'all know that due to extenuating circumstances, the Skamania Lodge Bed and Bookfest with me has been canceled this weekend. So if you want to learn how to make fizzy bath bombs or bind a book, you'll just have to buy Backcountry Betty: Crafting in Style or the upcoming Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook & Knit.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bed and Book-Fest Weekend


Head to the beautiful Skamania Lodge (near Portland) for a weekend of relaxation, crafting, and me! I'll be hosting the lodge's 2nd installment of its new Literary Series.

During the weekend, I'll mingle with guests during a reception on Saturday night, which will be followed by a short reading and chat. Sunday kicks off with a hands-on workshop, featuring projects from Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style. If that's not enough, I'll sit down with guests over lunch to talk about books, crafting, and pretty much whatever they want.

(photos: mymotels.com)

When: March 13 & 14
Where: Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, WA

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The supporting characters

I recently wrote a post on my other blog, Things I Want to Punch in the Face. It recounted my worst New Year’s Eves. The list is long and varied, and every entry involved other people. One of them, an ex-boyfriend, contacted me after reading the post, saying it was weird to see himself referenced in someone else’s story, even if I didn’t single him out by name or say anything negative about him.

I worry about a lot of stuff, so it’s not surprising that I worry about what my friends and family will think after writing about them (I worry about what they think when I'm not writing about them). I have been thoughtless in the past about oversharing and processing my thoughts and feelings through my writings. A man I was dating mistakenly thought I was referring to him in a column that was primarily about my grandfather, who had just passed away. He brought me to tears over a story that was supposed to be a love letter to my grandpa and his many admirable qualities vs. some of the men I had previously dated. In an article about my high-school reunion, I didn’t even change the names, thinking none of my classmates would see it. I was wrong.

I was wrong in many ways. See, my story isn’t just mine. My perspective and my voice are, certainly, but events, well, they usually involve other folks even if we remember things differently.

I’m working on a memoir, which wasn’t really music to my mom’s ears. Shit happened when I was growing up. And I’m trying to capture it from my point of view, through my eyes. But I’m having a tough time. I can’t help fast-forwarding to family reactions when I spill secrets that might not be only mine to share. Many memoirists (Augusten Burroughs, for example) have left a wake of ill will and severed relationships behind them for the sake of a fantastic, compelling read. I sure as hell don’t want that. Mom told me to wait until she was dead before publishing the memoir. I’m not going to do that, either. One, I want her to live for a long, long time. Two, it feels dishonest. If I’m going to risk someone’s reputation post-mortem, I should be willing to do it while they’re alive and face the music, even if I don’t want to hear it.

What are your thoughts on writing an honest memoir? Can it be done while protecting those who are part of the story?

A sampling of my books