Sunday, February 28, 2016

Memoir vs. Fiction: More Conundrums

As you can see in this post, something that occurred to me while trying to decide if my story I'm working on should be a memoir (I can still see it that way) or a fictionalized memoir (or fiction based on real-life) is about using names.  Fear over lawsuits, or at the very least angry comments from the person(s) who sees their name mentioned is just the first thing that occurred to me.

Would I really need to hire a lawyer, as the comment in the linked post above says? My boss said the other day when I showed her the post, "Don't even go there."  I guess not, at least for now.

I recently saw this article on defamation and invasion of privacy in writing. From the article:

Changing names and descriptions may not be enough if other details give away who the subject really is. And this doesn’t just apply to memoir, either. In a famous case where a novelist created a character based on a real person, she changed his name and physical description, but not much else. The author, Gwen Davis Mitchell, had attended a “Nude Marathon” therapy session in which participants shed their clothing in hopes that psychological inhibitions would go along with it. (Need I mention that this was 1970s California?) Prior to attending the session, Mitchell had signed a contract pledging she wouldn’t in any way disclose what had transpired. After the book, Touching, was released, Dr. Paul Bindrim sued the author and her publisher for defamation, saying that the character Dr. Simon Herford was clearly based on him, that colleagues identified him as Herford, and that his words and actions during the sessions had been inaccurately depicted.
 Mitchell’s character was described as a “fat Santa Claus type with long white hair, white sideburns, a cherubic rosy face and rosy forearms,” whereas Bindrim was cleanshaven and had short hair. In ruling in favor of Bindrim, the court said the only differences between the character and the man were physical, and that otherwise they were very similar.

Yeah calling someone "Bob Smith" when their real initials are "B.S," or changing their first name from "Tina" to "Terry," may not be enough to disguise their identity.  

Something else that I brought up the other day.  I  know this is thinking too far ahead, but should I ever get published and then someone wants to make a film out of my book.  It seems every book these days is material for movie adaptations.  I've seen a lot of books recently whose plot just screams movie.   The thing is about whether or not to mention names (real or fictional)  in the story. If it did ever get published and became a film, how do you film a book with unnamed characters?  And have there been any books with anonymous characters, that have been made into films?  Again, I know this is thinking too far ahead.  But for the time being, it's getting repetitive and boring just saying "this one girl," "this one guy," "a girl I knew," and such.   In some cases, I don't remember the names as it was someone I never saw again after that one particular time. And in other cases, I have the feeling the person(s) in question won't even remember they did what I said they'd done to me, or try to deny it. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Quiz: What Would You Win a Oscar For?

I think I agree with this one.  Not exactly into fashion, but have designed a few costumes for Halloween.

You Would Win Best Costume Design
You are imaginative, artistic, and very unique. You are a natural designer.
You can picture entire movies in your head. You are incredibly visual.

As long as you can remember, you've always had a flare for fashion. You like to experiment with looks.
You like dressing up in costumes and outfits. And not just for Halloween!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fiction or Memoir--Still Not Certain

Since I'm still only getting my ideas down I am still uncertain whether tell my story as a memoir  or as a fictionalized one.  The notes I've written sound more like the setup for a memoir.  I don't have very many direct quotes written down, but then again, it's hard to remember exact quotes.  But I guess this wouldn't matter even in a memoir.  Sometimes you just have to guess, get as close as you can. But that would also be true in fictionalized memoirs or fiction based on your own life.

If you regularly read my site, you may have seen the guest post yesterday by children's author Stephanie Faris.  She talks about how life informs fiction.  From her post:

It’s only human nature to draw on what we know as we create characters.

It's true many novel are based on the authors real-life experiences.  But I'm still afraid that even in a fiction story people I know will I know I mean them even if I use fake names.  To really hide someone's name you'd have to use something that doesn't sound like their real name.  But might they still be able to figure it out.  Two people in particular I'm worried about.  I'm scared of a lawsuit.  I'm just too poor for that.

I now wonder how many people were offended by reading someone else's book and seeing themselves
in the book, real name or not.  It was at one time used as a gag on TV shows.  Someone is trying to write a story and others advise that person "to write about what you know."  And when the person follows that advice, the others see that person's story and say, "This story is about us!" and the person writing the story then feels alienated by the others.  I can't imagine how this must be in real-life.  I can just see my former boss who yelled at me and a girl I hated for a long time being able to figure out I was talking about them, even if I don't use their real names.  In some cases, I can't even remember the names, and think the people in question wouldn't be able to guess it was about them.   If it were another person, and they disguised me in their book, I might try to confront them about it (if I can), but I can't afford to sue.  Even so, that won't stop others from doing so.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Guest Post By Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris, the childr

Stephanie Faris, the children's author whose blog I regularly follow (and who commented many times on my blog posts) is doing a guest post along with a reveal of her new book's cover (above). See her blog for a giveaway.

Since I am working on possible memoir or autobiographical novel (fictionalized memoir), the subject of the guest post is:

How Life Informs Fiction
by Stephanie Faris

If you write long enough, you’ll meet at least a few people who tell you they’ve always wanted to write a book. Nine times out of ten, the book they want to write is a memoir. After all, they’ve led such an interesting life, the rest of the world would love to read all about it.

There’s something I’ve figured out, though. Real life is messy. We may think it’s interesting, but most of our lives are made up of numerous super-interesting moments, interwoven with many, many days of going to work, coming home, eating dinner, and going to bed. When we condense it all into a book, the truth is, most people really wouldn’t care.

Fiction, however, is a completely different matter. In fiction, you pull from those moments and put them in your books. My own books don’t have specific moments from my life, although I did pull a few scenes of my life for a book I write that probably will never get published. It was quite interesting, reliving those moments in my mind…and even then, I didn’t tell the story exactly as it happened. I condensed it and made it much more interesting.

Snippets of my life can be seen in all of my books, though. The junior high school I attended, which was demolished long ago? That is the setting for all of my tween books. The friends I had, the boys I dated…parts of them go into every character I write. It’s only human nature to draw on what we know as we create characters.

But the process of writing a book is so much more fun when you’re making it all up as you go. As a fiction writer, you breathe life into your characters. They then surprise you with how they interact in the story. It would be wrong to say novelists don’t pull from our real lives. We just cleverly disguise it in a way that is much more interesting to read than the true story would have been.

Stephanie Faris, Author
25 ROSES (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X)
30 DAYS OF NO GOSSIP (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin MIX)
PIPER MORGAN JOINS THE CIRCUS (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, August 2016)
PIPER MORGAN IN CHARGE (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, August 2016)

My Photo

About the Author:

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on the small business blogs for Intuit and Go Payment and she is a featured columnist for She lives in Nashville with her husband.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Try Writing Letters Again, Even If You Don't Send Them

Why you should send handwritten letters

For my class today, I chose writing letters as my  writing activity.  It's a lost art these days, but those who participated in my class today had some funny ideas.

One idea was "Letters That Will Never Be Sent," pretending to write to someone such as a favorite author, film director,  someone you once knew or some sort of role model.  The other was writing a "Letter From a Place You've Never Been," imagining yourself on a journey somewhere you've never visited.    I got these ideas from a book of writing ideas I've been using for my class.   I also offered a variation of my own, using these same ideas imagining characters from books  or fairy tales writing a letter to each other, or make up characters of their own for the same idea.

This may be fun to try once in a while if you need some writing ideas.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Quiz: What is Your Writing Strength?

Hmmm... I know I have an active imagination, but why do I seem more geared toward  to doing a memoir?  Still not sure how to make it fictional.

Your Writing Strength is Imagination
You have an amazing mind, and the things you think up are extremely original.
You love to daydream, and your inner worlds can get quite complex. You see characters and stories very vividly.

You're the type of person who can write half a novel in your head. You aren't constrained by reality or expectations.
Anything you write will be unlike what has come before. Even if it's excellent, it may shock and confuse people at first.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Quiz: What Type of Poem Are You?

Not sure if I agree with this one.  I've tried writing poetry, incidentally, but rarely the kind that rhymes.

You Are a Couplet
You're not much for words, so you write a little ditty.
It might not be a novel, but at least it is witty.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Working on My Writing

I pulled out a binder I had left over from college to begin writing memoir notes on loose-leaf paper.  I know it sounds a bit old-school, but I have a rather old computer.  Getting a new one does not appear to be in the cards or my budget and I don't know if a current flash drive will work with my old computer.  And my printer has not been working for some time now, for reasons I cannot detect.  So this is the best I can do for now.  And if I can't sleep, I can write some things then, if I choose.

I'm looking at recounting what things made me cry and fell depressed over the year--something of a journey to Prozac.  I'm starting to see all this the focus. It certainly is sounding like a memoir.

As a child, I would sometimes find myself writing stories.  But it got harder to do so when I had to concentrate on school work, which got harder in high school and in college.

After college I got back into the idea every so often. But slacked off again.  But now I'm getting back to the idea. I guess it's not too late.  My class I conduct is helping me as well as the others participating.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quiz: Are You Fiction or Nonfiction?

Is this trying to tell me something? :-)

You Are Nonfiction
You are mentally sharp and clear-minded. Facts matter to you, and you remember them well.
You are curious about the world, and many subjects interest you. You have a real thirst for knowledge.

You are willing to listen to any point of view, as long as it's backed up with facts and logic.
You have nothing against fiction, but you definitely feel like the real world is interesting enough as is!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How Much Detail For a Memoir?

I began writing some stuff for my possible memoir.  One thing I'm afraid of is using real names and fearing anger from those people. There was one girl I hated for so long. I didn't even mention my family members by name in my preliminary writing.

Is a memoir really a good way to go?  How much detail do you need?  It isn't supposed to the same as an autobiography, so says this link:

Choose the right story to tell. Keep in mind as well that a memoir is not really the same thing as an autobiography; often, a memoir only deals with a single subject or a certain time in your life. What are the compelling and engaging stories of your life? Which of those stories would make a great memoir?

And from Wikipedia:
A memoir (from French: mémoire: memoria, meaningmemory or reminiscence) is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private that took place in the subject's life.[1][2] The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre is differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus. A biography or autobiography tells the story of a life, while a memoir often tells a story from a life, such as touchstone events and turning points from the author's life. The author of a memoir may be referred to as a memoirist.

I am trying to concentrate on my depression and what I am terming my "Prozac journey" and how I came to terms with this all.  I see this as a series of delays and detours on my journey.  I have written a prologue, giving some introduction to how I came to terms with my depression and how I came to write my story.  I then began some descriptions of how I didn't quite fit in and didn't seem like most other kids. I had several recollections that fit this and kept some brief and to the point. I did not quote any dialogue [can't remember all that for sure :-) ].  And some I did not tell a lot of detail of.  But then, I am only beginning. I am now trying to decided how many specific events I need to recall that seemed to have contributed to my depression tendencies.  

Tell the truth. Too many memoir writers have been publicly and embarrassingly brought down by taking creative licence a little too far. If you’re veering too far into fantasy, call it a novel, not a memoir.

I'm only beginning, perhaps I could try a fictionalized memoir? What I have written sounds like  memoir, and a fictionalized can be written in first person as can be a true memoir.  But a novel can be written in third person as well.  Trying to come up with names for a fictional character isn't easy. If I did this, I'd try to avoid overly used ones, but not use something overly cute. As someone who reads more fiction and once dreamed of writing a novel, this is seeming hard to do. But as I said, I'm afraid of using real names in a "truthful" memoir.  How will they react if the book becomes a reality?  I read a little of everything, but tend to read more fiction than nonfiction. Would it make sense to write fiction, then?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quiz: What Genre Should You Write

Well, maybe it's the way to go. I still feel my story is too similar to what has already been written...

You Should Write a Memoir
You're the type of person whose life is stranger than fiction... so you might as well write about it!
Your life has been one wild ride - some of it by choice, some of it by circumstance. There's a lot for you to write.

You have a fairly objective and interesting take on your own experiences. No one can tell your story as well as you can.
Your life has been an interesting journey, and you're always learning and doing more. Who knows? You may have even more than one memoir in you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Sample of My Writing

I thought I'd share a sample of what I had written for my class to see.  I've been trying writing prompts to try to get some ideas for my book, trying to tie most of them into depression.

One writing prompt I love is "Retelling a Tale."  This can be done many ways, one being writing the story from another character's point of view. Saying what happens before or after (kind of a prequel or sequel) is another, as is setting the tale in a current or modern setting. I tried the last one, or sort of  :-)  Read below the images:
I now want to read this book,
since one of my challenges
is fairy tale retellings.

The Story of a Modern Day Cinderella
Same with this one.

I amy use this a part of the fictional elements, if I choose that route.

The young girl who looked like a princess sat in the psychiatrist's office, expressing why she was there.
"I've been treated like a servant," she said, looking very depressed. "After my real mother died, my father remarried, then he died, leaving me with that awful new wife of his and her two mean daughters." Tears fell from her eyes.
"They made me do all the work," she continued. "They wouldn't let me go to the ball. But then my fairy godmother appeared and granted my wish and when I got there, the prince was madly in love with me.
"But I had to leave before midnight before the spell wore off, and I lost my glass slipper." She paused.
"Did all this really happen?" the psychiatrist asked.
"No, it turned out to be an awful dream. When I awoke, I wanted to harm myself by cutting or making myself fall down."
"I can see you are very depressed," the doctor observed.
"Yes," she agreed.  "What can I do?"
"Well, it seems you may need  some medication.  We'll start you off on 10 mg of Prozac." He entered her information into his computer.
Later that afternoon, she picked up her prescription, to be begun the following morning. She read over the papers she and her doctor had signed and the notes from the pharmacy.  It was just the beginning of her Prozac journey. 

Tell me what you think :-)

Monday, February 8, 2016

The 2016 Feminism Reading Challenge

I didn't think I'd be signing up for any more challenges, and it didn't look like this one was being offered this year.  But here it is at a new blog, so I'll be in again.  There are no levels again, and I've already read some books that fit. See here.

Last year I created a Feminism Suggested Reading List. I decided to create a reading challenge for this goal and invite others to participate. It was a great success so I'm bringing it back for 2016!

My purpose for this challenge is to educate myself about the history of feminism, significant people in the movement, and to learn the different schools of feminist thought.

However, this is a design it yourself challenge. I want you to choose your own reading goals. They may be be different from mine. Perhaps you will want to focus on reproductive rights, on just third wave feminism, or just on female fictional authors. The choice is yours.
The Rules:
This challenge begins January 1, 2016 and ends Dec 31, 2016.

You may sign up anytime during the year.

I won't be creating different levels. Read as little or as many books as you want.

You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks.

Books may be YA, adult, fiction, or nonfiction. You will find a suggested reading list 
here. Books do not have to come from this list but they must focus on feminist issues and themes.

You may reread books.

Here is what I am reading:

  1. Brown Girl Dreaming--Jacqueline Woodson
  2. Prozac Nation--Elizabeth Wurtzel
  3. Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
  4. Anne of Green Gables--L.M. Montgomery
  5. The Funeral Dress--Susan Gregg Gilmore
  6. Letter to My Daughter--Maya Angelou
  7. Room--Emma Donoghue
  8. Jane Eyre--Charlotte Bronte
  9. X--Sue Grafton
  10. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead--Michelle Markel
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird--Harper Lee
  12. Diving Into the Wreck--Adrienne Rich
  13. The Yellow Wall-Paper and Other Writings--Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  14. Queen's Own Fool--Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris
  15. Persepolis--Marjane Satrapi
  16. Persepolis 2--Marjane Satrapi
  17. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me--Ellen Forney
  18. Precious--Sapphire
  19. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?--Mindy Kaling
  20. Hyperbole and a Half--Allie Brosh
  21. Everything I Never Told You--Celeste Ng
  22. Etiquette & Espionage--Gail Carriger
  23. Curtsies & Conspiracies--Gail Carriger
  24. Waistcoats & Weaponry--Gail Carriger
  25. Manners & Mutiny--Gail Carriger
  26. I Am Malala--Malala Yousafzai
  27. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot--Kim Barker
  28. Yes Please--Amy Poehler
  29. Philomena--Martin Sixsmith
  30. 1968: The Year That Rocked the World--Mark Kurlansky
  31. Such a Pretty Fat--Jen Lancaster
  32. Northanger Abbey--Jane Austen
  33. Villette--Charlotte Bronte
  34. Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia--Jean Sasson
  35. Princess Sultana's Daughters--Jean Sasson
  36. Princess Sultana's Circle--Jean Sasson
  37. Being Jazz--Jazz Jennings
  38. Firefly Lane--Kristin Hannah
  39. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty--A.N. Roquelaure
  40. Go Set a Watchman--Harper Lee
  41. The Bell Jar--Sylvia Plath
  42. The Third Witch--Rebecca Reisert
  43. The Underground Railroad--Colson Whitehead
  44. Another Brooklyn--Jacqueline Woodson
Calling this complete on November 22. The blog has been deleted.