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text 2017-04-20 07:37
Introduction to Memoir Writing - workshop outline FREE

A dozen people turned up to my free workshop, Introduction to Writing Memoir.


I spoke for an hour - flat out. In the end there was applause and a few participants bought my books, nicely displayed on a table near the door (so they couldn't miss them).


A lot of participants who attend the Creative Writing Circles I facilitate are writing memoirs. A lot of them don't know where to begin, how to structure or write their stories. I thought a workshop that addressed these issues would at least get them started off right, saving them a lot of time and frustration revising.


They might even be grateful enough to buy a book. Some apparently were.


Here's the workshop outline I distributed to those who attended. You might find this information helpful if you're considering writing about an event in your life. If you do (and your feeling grateful) sign up for my Advance Reading Team and I'll send you a FREE E-BOOK edition of my latest novel The LOCAL RAG.


Here's the link. http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj



Introduction to Memoir Writing

Facilitator: Rod Raglin

Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Website: http://www.rodraglin.com

E-mail: rod_raglin@yahoo.com


This short program is designed to set you on the right path to writing a memoir.


What is a memoir?

A memoir is not the story of your life (autobiography) but rather a story of one of your life experiences. It has a distinct beginning and end.


How to plan your memoir

Your memoir should be structured like any good story. Before you begin writing you should decide the story's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

Goal: What did you want?

Motivation: Why did you want it?

Conflict: What was stopping you from getting it?


Be specific about your Goal

It's best to be specific and not generalize - I wanted to be happy is a generalization. I wanted out of the marriage I was in with an alcoholic so I could be happy is specific. Rather than wanting a good job which is a generalization; write I wanted to be a neuro-surgeon.



Dig deep to discover why you wanted what you wanted. You might think you wanted to start your own business because you hoped to make a lot of money but was there more - the prestige, the power, the independence?



These are the challenges that are preventing you from attaining your goal. Here again dig deep. What was stopping you from writing that novel - the responsibility of a family, lack of time - or fear of failure?


Where to start

Start with the inciting incident. The moment you decided things were going to change, or the moment something happened that changed the status quo.

Don't start with backstory - your personal history - fill that in as the story unfolds and only what is necessary for the reader to understand your motivation. Always make it minimal and relevant to this memoir.


Story structure

The story arc - begins with the inciting incident and the tension rises as you are confronted with one obstacle (conflict) after another that you have to overcome to achieve your goal. The highest point of the story arc is the climax - the final battle that will resolve whether or not you achieve your goal.


Then denouement - wrap up loose ends and finish.


Some tips about writing

Always ask Why and How - and answer these questions honestly


Evoke emotion - how did you feel about the person, the event, the award, the death? Reading is an emotional experience and if you don't tell the reader how you felt about the events you're writing about your memoir will be uninspiring and not entertaining. Remember the paradox of writing - the more personal you write, the more universal the appeal.


Show don't tell

You want your reader to feel like they're actually experiencing the event not being told what happened. One of the best way to do this is to use lots of dialogue. Dialogue is action and action is showing not telling. It doesn't matter if you don't remember exactly what was said - this is your story.


Consider the writing technique Scene/Sequel.

Write an action scene and then a sequel reflecting on the action.


Use specifics - don't generalize



Once you've written your memoir you need to put it away until it's out of your system. You need to get perspective on it. That could take anywhere from a minimum of three months to? Then take it out and re-read and revise. You'll likely have lots of revisions.


Once you've done the re-write, you need to find as many "objective" people as possible to read, proof and comment on it. Try to find people who can be honest and do not have a conflict of interest.


Consider joining a local writing group or register on an online critique site. Then revise taking their comments and corrections into consideration.



Once you've done all the revising you can decide to self publish on Amazon - free with a 70-30% royalty split or begin the submission process to publishers.


Books that are helpful:

The Writer's Process, Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer 

Writing MEMOIR, The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life,

by Jerry Payne


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review 2016-10-11 03:12
The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard
Adventures in Writing for Children: More Tips from an Award-Winning Author on the Art and Business of Writing Children's Books and Publishing Them - Aaron Shepard

The Business of Writing for Children, An Award-Winning Author's Tips on Writing Children's Books and Publishing Them, or How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book for Kids by Aaron Shepard is a reference book or children's fiction. I gave it two stars. I tried several times to read this book. I just couldn't finish it. It was documentary dry and I didn't like it.


It did give some helpful information on what makes a successful story. "The strongest children's stories have well-developed themes, engaging plots, suitable structure, memorable characters, well-chosen settings, and attractive style. For best results, build strengths in all areas."


I received a complimentary e-copy from Shepard Publications and NetGalley. That did not change my opinion for this review.


Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Business-Writing-Children-Award-Winning-Publishing-ebook/dp/B00FFLVJJU

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text 2016-02-19 07:01
What I'm learning from rewriting my first novel

 I wrote my first novel, The Local Rag, in 2003.


Like most first novels it was a masterpiece.


I sent it out and as the response came in I decided maybe I didn't want to be a novelist after all.


I hid the manuscript in the back of my filing cabinet.


Four months ago I dug it out. It hadn't improved with age, but at least I could now read it without weeping and gnashing my teeth. To my surprise I discovered if you could overlook the very bad writing (which I admit was difficult, even painful) there was indeed a story buried in there, one even more in need of telling today than it was thirteen years ago.


I review quite a number of books by independent authors (see link below to my video book review blog Not Your Friend, Not Your Family book reviews) and most of them are making the same mistakes I made in my first novel. This means if you continue writing for ten more years you should at least achieve my level of skill, which, come to think of it might make you want to rethink your career path, especially if you consider the lack of success I've attained.


But I digress.


What the rewriting of The Local Rag (yes, I'm rewriting it) has done for me is affirm my criticism of the work of new writers - at least in my mind.


To put that another way, I am now rewriting The Local Rag in accordance to what I've suggested many new authors do to improve their work.


And what are those suggestions:


  • Begin with Goal, Motivation and Conflict: what does my protagonist want, why do they want it, and what is preventing them from getting it? Write your GMC down and refer to it each time you begin to write. It will keep your story focused.
  • Don't over explain - especially simple actions and the description of characters. Leave it to the reader's imagination
  • Use adverbs sparingly. Especially don't use them to explain your dialogue.
  • Leave out everything (and I mean everything) you can't attribute to developing character or advancing the plot.


In 2003 the word count for The Local Rag was about 82,000. The 2016 version will likely be about 60,000.


Of course, a significant number of the words deleted are "that" (used 910 times) and "just" (used 279 times) in the original manuscript.


However, I hope the new version supports the theory that less is best when it comes to writing.


Herewith is blurb for The Local Rag. I find writing the blurb before you actually begin writing the novel is another good way to keep focused.



Do you believe everything you read in the newspapers?


Jim Mitchell doesn't.


He's a journalist and the publisher and editor of a community newspaper, The Sentinel.


He gave up a career with big media because he couldn't justify their choice of what to cover, couldn't tolerate the way they edited his stories and would not be implicit in misleading the public to benefit some hidden corporate agenda.


When he bought The Sentinel he thought all that would end. Being owner of "the local rag" he could select the stories, edit the copy and make sure the interests of the community were served.


He would print the truth - no slant, no bias, no spin, and he'd make a living doing it.


He was wrong.


Right from the beginning Jim's brand of reportage rankles some powerful people, people who pay his bills. Then there's the new competitor, a multinational media conglomerate that's expanding its generic community newspaper format into The Sentinel's market area.


Soon it's a struggle for The Sentinel to make a profit and for Jim to keep true to his uncompromising ethic.


When his best friend, Anthony Bravaro decides to run for mayor Jim's hopeful for the first time he'll see an honest politician.


Hope turns to dismay as Jim watches the quest for power turn a good man bad.

Tony's campaign tests Jim's professional objectivity and personal integrity.


When Jim confronts him with damaging information that could end his run for public office he finds out how far Tony's prepared to go to win the mayor's seat - farther than he ever could have imagined.




Book Giveaway. 100 e-books of ABANDONED DREAMS 'til March 1







Special Preorder Price 99¢ 'til March 6, 2016

After March 6, $3.99



Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ





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text 2016-02-16 19:07
Learning Your Writing Rhythm - Time for an Author's Holiday


One of the important things I've learned about being an author is that I am totally different than any other author out there. What do I mean by that? I mean that as I have studied my craft I have discovered that what makes me tick, and what helps me get words on a page, is totally different than anyone else.

I am unique, and guess what, so are you.

If you are an aspiring author, stop trying to squish yourself into a mold that made someone else successful, you won't fit. You have to create your own mold.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't study the work habits of successful authors because you should, but what it does mean is that you should use the shopping cart approach to your mold creation.

The shopping cart approach is this. As you push your shopping cart through a grocery store you don't grab one of everything off the shelves and fill your cart, you only take what you need and you leave the rest. That is the type of approach you should use when figuring out what makes you tick as an author.

Do you work best with a detailed outline, or do you prefer a more organic unfolding of your story? Do you work best with a word count goal or writing until the muse calls it quits? Do you write best in the morning or at midnight? Do you work best at a keyboard or with a pen and paper?

So what's the catch? You'll only discover what works best for you by doing it. Placing pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard. Does that frighten you? Let me tell you a secret, pencils have erasers and computers have delete keys, so nothing you create has to live on as a fodder for your inner critic.

So what brought all this on? I figured out another of my rhythms today and I've chosen to call it an author's holiday. I'm working on my fifth book and I've hit a point where I'm not sure if I'm still on track. I'm an organic writer. I have a general idea of where I want my story to go, and I even have a few scene's worked out in my mind, but what ends up on paper flows from my brain to the keyboard with very little in between. I average about four days a week of writing with a word goal of 1,000 words per day. So by the time I hit about 50,000 words I've been working on a story for almost four months. That seems to be when my inner-critic steps up and says, "What the heck are you doing? This is garbage." That is when I have to go on an author's holiday. I have to print out what I've written to date and switch from author to reader. I take my unfinished manuscript, a purple pen, and a cup of coffee, and I sit down and read what I've written from beginning to end. My goal is not to edit or proofread, although that is inevitable thus the purple pen, but to read the story as a reader. It reminds me who my characters are and what drives them. It reminds me of the little pearls of truth that I've managed to work into the story. It silences that internal critic and recharges me for the next time I sit down to write.

Now that I have figured out my need for an author's holiday, I will work it into my mold and instead of being frustrated I will accept that this is a part of my writing style.

I hope that something I have said here helps you as you go forward to create your successful writing career.


I don't often have time to write full blog posts, so if you'd like to hear from me more often follow me on Instagram for snippets of my life as an author.



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text 2015-09-15 11:07
Guest post by Rod Raglin: Rushing to publish could mean blowing your best opportunities
Rod Raglin is a journalist/photographer/writer living on the west coast of Canada. He is author of the five novels; THE BIG PICTURE - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic, FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend, and the series ECO-WARRORS that includes SPIRIT BEAR, EAGLERIDGE BLUFFS, and NOT WONDER MORE - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.
Someone one wise once said: There is no right way to write. So true. But we all want to do it the right way, right? 
Rod decided to share his writing process secrets in this little piece about his personal writing experiences with some essential tips & tricks that may come in handy not only for writers but also readers and reviewers. Enjoy! 
So you’ve finally finished your novel.


What you’ve accomplished is significant and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. How many people do you know who have spent countless hours by themselves sitting in front of a keyboard creating an imaginary world?

It’s only a matter of time before your creation changes your life, and that can’t happen too soon. What are you waiting for? It’s time to start submitting it to all those fortunate agents and publishers you’ve selected, right?


I was once like you, full of enthusiasm and hubris upon completing my first novel. To get my masterpiece published I pulled in all my favours, two actually. I had an acquaintance who knew Jeffrey Archer personally (yes, that Jeffrey Archer), and I had a business associate who was an editor in a well-respected publishing firm.

The first response came from Archer’s agent. She suggested I take some writing courses. A little while later the editor returned my manuscript. She’d taken the time to line edit the first chapter complete with margin notes. Suffice to say the editing notes all but obscured the original text.

At the time I didn’t realize it, but I had just blown two really good opportunities in my rush to get published.  That manuscript is still buried somewhere in my filing cabinet. I’m too embarrassed to look at it.
Most recently I’ve taken on writing and and doing video book reviews* of the work of new, self-published authors.
I’ve written a lot of book reviews, but in this category – new, self-published authors the average star rating is 2.8, a bit better than I didn’t like it, but not quite as good as I liked it.
A few of these authors are brilliant, but most, though they have potential, are hampered by lack of craft. If they continue writing and reading I know they’ll improve. Writing is like most things – the more you do it the better you get.
I have to add a caveat to that statement. Your writing will improve if you continue to do it while seeking out constructive criticism and taking it to heart.
Most of the novels I’m giving two stars to have been rushed into publication. I know you’re excited, but remember – it’s never as good as you think it is, and it can always be better. Yes, always.
Here are some suggestions you might want to consider when you’ve completed your novel. It’s what I do and though it hasn’t garnered me success, it’s at least saved me further embarrassment.
- I revise the manuscript a minimum three times or until I feel it’s finished.
- I read it out loud (it drives my cat crazy).
- Then I put it away for at least three months or however long it takes to get it out of my system.
- While I’m waiting to be purged, I work on something completely different.
- Once I’ve put some distance between my ego and the book, I’m ready. I take out the manuscript and send it to as many beta readers for comment as I can. If you don’t have a stable of readers who are free from conflict of interest – that means no family and no friends, join a writing group, online or otherwise, and workshop the novel.
Once I’ve decided it’s time for the final rewrite I gather all the comments and criticisms together and begin.
When I’m finished I have another decision to make. Do I begin the traditional submission process or save myself a lot of time and frustration and go directly to self-publishing?
If you follow this method I guarantee your final version will be different and better than it was when you deemed it complete. And if someone does recommend your book to Oprah or the New York Times decides to review it, it will be perfect – or as perfect as you could make it.
Keep writing and remember what Nietzsche said:
The doer alone learneth.
* Video book reviews of self-published authors now at
Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQN



Rod Raglin





This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin... Go to Rod's blog ->

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