This is a plea: Women, tell your stories. Now, more than ever, the world needs to hear the voices of rational women—nurturing, assertive, educated, and under-educated. Scientists, poets, mathematicians, journalists, stay-at-home moms, working moms, young moms, grandmothers raising their kid’s kids, librarians, IT workers, software designers, romance writers all have stories to tell.
Society used to teach women that we were the weaker sex. We need to remind Eleanor Roosevelt’s words, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Women don’t fit into one mold any more than men do. We don’t have one voice, either, but we agree that sexually demeaning behavior is unbecoming and unacceptable.
So women, tell your stories. All abuse is not about sex. It’s not necessarily about parents and children, drugs and alcohol, or bullying and being bullied. Whatever your story, whether a man is in it or not, whether it includes sex or not, whether it seems interesting to you or not, write it down for your family, your neighbors, your community, the world, and especially for yourself. If you don’t tell your story, who will?
It’s easy to tell others to take risks. It’s harder to live by that rule, especially if you’re wise enough to consider the consequences. Have faith. Take a leap and trust that someone will catch you.
Weigh your choices.
Don’t hesitate to give to a stranger but don’t give everything away.
Be who you are. Everybody else is taken.
Life is short. Have the courage to leave a miserable job, if you’ve tried everything you can. The same is true of a miserable relationship, as long as you’re not hurting your children. If you’re afraid you might be, weigh the value of staying in a struggling relationship against the possible outcome of moving on.
Don’t be afraid to move on and move forward. Don’t let fear hold you back.
Don’t be afraid to love; don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
Remember that life is what happens while you’re making other plans.
Consider your body, with all its imperfections, a gift from God. Treat it well and know what you can and cannot change.
Accept what you cannot change; change what you can; ask for the wisdom to know the difference.
Even if you’ve read the book, you can pay it forward to a friend, a library, a senior center, a book club, or anyone who claims she can’t find that right person. Maybe you can help your friend reinvent the meaning of “right person.”
And why is this a quiet giveaway? I haven’t acquired skills in promoting it. So if you see this, why not give it a try.
There is hope for anyone seeking a life partner. I am living proof of it.
“No one, and I mean no one, writes alone in an attic with no support. Think about it: in order to stay in an attic all day doing your thing, someone has to shop, cook and clean for you, do the laundry, bring you new supplies. If we’ve heard of a writer, someone edited and published them. Someone bought the books.
“My point is: the myth of the lonely artist serves none of us. If you have a dream to write, get a buddy, take a class, find a group, or get support to find alone time if that is what you need.” — Elizabeth Stark
What are you searching for?
So how do you find the support you need? Check out the following resources:
The resources are out there and many stories sit inside your head, waiting to be told. Writer Advice has a manuscript consultation service, which I run, and I also teach Independent Study, working one-on-one with you and your writing, through Story Circle Network. Why face the blank page alone when there are resources to help you?
You can see a sample of my writing in the free section of Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62here.
“Together we can change the world, one good deed at a time.” ~~Anonymous
Share Your Opinions:
Why Book Reviews Matter and How You Can Help
Whether you’re an author or not, one of the kindest gifts you can give to any writer is a constructive honest review. It doesn’t have to be long or literary or quote specific passages unless you’re writing for a site that expects that.
Not only will your comments please the author, but your words might help her see her work in a whole new way. You’ll be helping readers who depend on reviews make a choice. In addition your review could be a springboard for new writing for either of you. That’s good for everyone and a lot to get out of a few minutes of reacting to a story that grabbed you and/or made you think.
Quick, short reviews can be very effective—especially on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Simply tell why you recommend the book in one or two sentences. If you want to add plot summary, analysis of writing style, or who the ideal audience is, feel free. It’s nice but not necessary.
““Never Too Lateis an honest, insightful look at one of life’s greatest mysteries: the ever changing and ever challenging relationship between a man and a woman. This book is one you won’t want to miss!” —Mary Eileen Williams, Host of Feisty Side of Fifty, author of Land the Job You Love!: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50
If you decide to write a more detailed review, start with the themes an author explores and then talk about how and why the story sheds new light on a familiar subject or opens your insights. Often I start by articulating the questions that the author is exploring:
What if you have a gift that no one can accept?
Ever been puzzled by a partner’s behavior?
Ever wonder how others handle the costs of their bad decisions?
What happens when family and ambition compete?
What does it take to survive?
Another approach is to tell people what the book intends to convey and how well it does its job. This works for a two-sentence review or a longer one.
I usually include a brief summary and identify the author’s strengths. If something bothers me I’ll mention it briefly as long as it’s not a story spoiler. If I can’t write something good and make the review at least 80% positive, I move on to the next book.
If you look at the reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, you’ll see that lengths vary. I’ve written one-sentence reviews and I’ve posted reviews of 350 words or more. Generally, less is more. Many people have short attention spans.
Once you’re satisfied with your review, it’s easy to cut and paste into Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.
Go to the site where you want to place your review.
Find the search box.
Type the book title and/or author and hit return.
When the correct page comes up, scroll down to the box that says, “Write a Customer Review” or “Add a Review.”
Click on the box. Amazon asks some questions to guide you. Barnes & Noble doesn’t. You can simply rate the book and paste in your review, because you are prepared.
Often the sites will notify the author when a review is posted. Not always. It’s all controlled by algorithms beyond our control. Here’s what’s within your control:
You can write a review.
You can read other reviews as samples.
You can post a review.
You can practice on the last book you read. Or the one you’re just finishing. The authors will love you for it.
Another way to help authors is to recommend their books to your friends, writing peers, and book groups. Word of mouth is excellent publicity. Paying it forward matters. Right or wrong, the number of reviews you have on Amazon also matters, so the important thing is to write honestly and share your thoughts. They’re just as valuable as anyone else’s. You never know where a review might lead. Doing book reviews is a great way for writers to build community.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Thinking is great. Doing is better. To encourage you to keep writing, I’d like to share a few excerpts from an interview Carol Smallwood did with me about my new book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. The title says it all, but the memoir says it in so much more detail.
When I started making notes for the book, while Richard and I were dating, I was filled with “what ifs.”
What if this wasn’t the real deal?
What if I lost my identity and my money—not that I had an overwhelming amount.
What if I couldn’t live with 62-years of being alone?
I journaled about these questions and much more. Writing gave me perspective and insight. We got married on February 17, 2012.
Once the book came out, it was time for interviews. Carol Smallwood, a prolific librarian, asked some great questions, and I was happy to answer them. I loved it when she asked, “From working closely with writers, what advice would you give someone struggling with getting started as a writer?
So here are A Dozen Flexible Rules for Struggling Writers:
Write daily. Start by writing for 10-20 minutes.
Give yourself permission to get lost in your writing
Write about whatever you want, and if one day you want to write a list, start there.
Go wherever the writing takes you. No one ever has to read it but you.
When you are done, reread what you’ve written and underline 2-3 places that have energy for you.
Pick one the next day that you really like and start there.
Or write another list.
Or write about whatever is on your mind.
Can’t write? Read a story.
Look at how professionals put a story together.
Go back to your journal and say what you liked about the story.
Let the writing go wherever it wants before repeating Steps 5 & 6.
Start anywhere! Writing daily matters. Your techniques will improve. So will the speed at which you get ideas.
I’ve been writing Monday through Friday for the last 6 weeks or so. Theoretically, I write first thing in the morning—but I usually do some stretches, feed Eddie McPuppers, and pour a cup of coffee before I start. Usually, I write for 10 minutes, but I often go longer. Then polish for another 15-20. I started doing this to help me get back on track after publishing Never Too Late. I don’t consider myself a struggling writer, but this helps so much that I recommend it anytime anyone gets in a slump.
NOTE: If you defy rules:
Quitting is not an option.
Doodling is not an option.
Checking the Internet or my e-mail is not an option.
If I could get going a little earlier, I’d start looking at the flash fiction, flash memoir, and potential for longer stories in this eclectic collection I’m building. You have to have the material before you can start shaping it, and I feel more and more ready to shape and sculpt my stories every day.
As a woman I heard speak recently said, “Write, revise, send, and repeat.” I think I’ve got the first two down. It’s time to start practicing send and repeat, and see where those steps take me.
If you’d like to read Carol’s interview with me and learn more about Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, go to www.writeradvice.com.
B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com. Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was released in December. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregiversand Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.
Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.