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Category: memoir (Page 1 of 2)

[Author Interview] Don Karp | Letters from Mexico

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Don Karp

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Don Karp: I am very grateful for my varied life. I’ve been through a lot and learned how to constantly change and adapt. Writing has helped me tremendously with this.

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Don Karp: I started writing a journal in the mid-sixties. But I am a late bloomer, not having published my memoir until 2013. Actually, I did publish a few articles in local magazines and newspapers in the ’70’s and ’80’s.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Don Karp: I stared a new blog on my site called Letters From Mexico. I also have some articles on Medium.com, and regularly answer questions on Quora.com.

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ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Don Karp: I like writing partly as a form of self-examination and awareness, but also as a way to help people. I feel I’ve some unique perspectives on life.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Don Karp: The technical issues of publishing online, marketing strategies, and I have mixed feelings about spending enough time writing.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Don Karp: Most of my ideas come from personal life experiences, some from dreams, others from friends.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Don Karp: Very eclectic! I love to do stream of consciousness as an aide to self-examination. I seldom reread these writings. For publication, I often use an outline, and write with pen and paper for my first rough draft.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Don Karp:Sure, new directions seem to pop up often. That’s one of the joys of writing for me. Novelty. I love it!

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Don Karp: I never thought of this question before. Of the top of my head, I’d say the back cover of my memoir. It succinctly expresses my philosophy of the values of “culture clash” which is part of the memoir’s title. Also it has a testimonial by an award-winning author, who it was my very good fortune to meet. Without her help I’d never have published it.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Don Karp: I just started a blog (Letters From Mexico) about my experiences living in Mexico that will become another memoir. I see at least two other memoirs covering different life themes. In mid-August I am facilitating a therapeutic journal writing workshop at two back-to-back conferences in Boston.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Don Karp: My site is http://www.donkarp.com. Look for me on Quora.com and
Medium.com. Facebook and @donsbumpyroad (Twitter).

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Don Karp: And thanks to you for sharing about me. I look forward to meeting and sharing with many new friends who read this!


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[Author Interview] Carol Marsh | Nowhere Else I Want to Be

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Carol D. Marsh

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Carol D. Marsh: I’m a 62-year-old woman living in Washington, DC with my wonderful husband. When not writing, I’m marketing my book and my online school, going to the Y for a work-out, knitting, reading, baking, or (a good bit of the time) managing chronic migraine pain.

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Marsh: I’ve written as long as I can remember. Small notes to my Mom, birthday poems for family members, the usual (bad) teenage poetry and essay attempts. My serious writing, meaning not for work or fund-raising, began in 2010, when I started my memoir.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Marsh: Nowhere Else I Want to Be: A Memoir was published in January 2017. It’s a work of literary nonfiction that got its big push at the Goucher College MFA program (2012-2014). And I’ve had a couple of essays published this summer, one in The Los Angeles Review, the other in Lunch Ticket.

Click here to get your copy!

ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Marsh: Its combination of creativity and intellect, and the way I feel while I’m writing and in the hour or so after I’m done. I also love the rewriting process – finding the right word or phrase, testing how the words feel in my mouth, getting to the precise point or meaning. It’s so rewarding.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Marsh: Getting past the inertia of anxiety and the feeling that I’m not actually a writer. Not, at least, in the way I assume other writers are. I have a sense I’m not good enough to express this emotion, or make that argument, or say this thing about something important. My journey as a writer has been, in part, about trusting my own voice.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Marsh: I write nonfiction and memoiristic essays, so my ideas come from my life, by way of my heart.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Marsh: My writing process is choppy because I have chronic migraine disease and am unable to establish a regular, daily practice. But I’ve learned to write when not in too much pain, and to let it go when in a lot of pain. I’ve had to ignore the common wisdom about writing for five hours a day, but I suspect most of us do. Who has the luxury of all that time? Certainly not parents, or the employed, or students, or … you get the message.

Because of that, my writing process never runs on momentum. I manage by fits and starts, and have had to learn not to let the fits keep me from starting. And then, having to start again. I’ve found if I accept my process’ choppy nature, I worry less about not having a regular practice, which gives me more energy to write when I can.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Marsh: I have to guard against the writing taking over because too often I seem to veer into the fanciful or the made-up. As though I’m writing how I want something to have been rather than how it was in reality. This is partly because writing a scene means getting to details – sound, smell, sight, etc. I end up questioning myself at the end of a writing session that has got away from me, wait, was the wind really blowing so hard that day? Or was that a different day? Did she actually say that in so many words?

At Goucher College, where I got my MFA, we were told not to make sh*t up. Honestly, that’s one thing for long-form journalism, and quite another for memoir. Not that writing memoir is an excuse to make sh*t up. It’s not. But we’re so often writing about something not researchable as fact. We rely on our memories or the memories of others. And memories are notoriously sketchy when it comes to reliability. So a memoirist needs to hone her integrity and closely monitor how she writes through inevitable memory gaps, working to not fill them in with sh*t. Plus, she takes advantage of research that can help with accuracy, such as public records, weather reports, home videos and photographs, and diaries or journals.

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Marsh: Oh, dear, that’s hard to say. If I have to choose, I’d say it’s not one part, but the scenes in which we’re together as a community. (My memoir is about ten of the years I worked and lived at Miriam’s House–a residence for Washington, DC’s homeless women with AIDS–as its Founding Executive Director). I tried to recreate the sounds and language and feel of our gatherings. They were fun to write and are fun, now, to read.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Marsh: I have a couple of essays in the works, and am started on a new full-length project that I’ll be mysterious about for now.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Marsh: Two places: 1) my website, http://www.caroldmarsh.com/; and my online school, http://forumatcaroldmarsh.com/ (Forum for Growth in Service — support and challenge for people who want to serve others authentically, compassionately, and effectively).

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Marsh: Thank you so much for this opportunity.


*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.

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How Mommy Got Her Groove Back – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Rebecca Undem

How Mommy Got Her Groove Back is Rebecca Undem’s touching memoir about her departure from and eventual return to her rural upbringing. Raised in Oakes, North Dakota, Rebecca cherished growing up in the country with her loving family. However, she yearned for a more exciting life in the city. After a series of corporate jobs in big cities, though, Rebecca began to feel like her heart wasn’t really in it. She and her husband, Jeremiah, returned to Oakes to help her parents with the family business. Once there, she struggled to balance her desire for a successful career, her familial role as a farmer’s wife, and her new, most important job as a mother to their three young children. A long, zig-zagged road of trial and error later, Rebecca found herself and her calling in the one place she least expected to do so: her own hometown.

How Mommy Got Her Groove Back is a true gem in a dozen different ways. The most significant is that it is so easy to relate to; at times, it feels so very personal. Although it is a memoir of her own life, Rebecca Undem’s trials and triumphs are ones that we all, as human beings, have faced at one point or another. She is all of us, in that she is a determined woman who is just trying to do the right thing for herself and her family. Her words are poignant, yet casual; witty, yet friendly; humorous, yet so strikingly hard-hitting. It is sometimes difficult to become so wholly invested in the life of another, but Rebecca Undem achieves that captivation immediately and maintains it until her last page.

This book is anything but just a memoir. How Mommy Got Her Groove Back is an epic adventure, full of love, sadness, faith, and above all, life. Also, perhaps without intention, it is brimming with friendly advice and confident support. All in one short book, How Mommy Got Her Groove Back is a shoulder to lean on, a picture of nostalgic love, and a beacon of light to lead its readers to their own callings, serving to cement Rebecca Undem as a forever “Nestie” for all of us.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Sparrow’s Spirit – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Bill Welker

The Sparrow’s Spirit is Bill Welker’s autobiographical memoir about the tumultuous early years of his life. Having come from a long line of champion wrestlers, it was expected that Bill would wrestle in school, too – and he did. Nothing mattered more to Bill than wrestling, and after a series of impressive victories, he even received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Pittsburgh. Once there, though, his life began to spiral out of control. Bill’s struggles with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and depression caused him to abandon wrestling and turn to alcohol, subsequently getting in trouble often. From then on, Bill Welker was faced with defeating his most challenging opponent to date: himself.

Unfortunately, it is almost immediately evident that The Sparrow’s Spirit is quite poorly organized. Many of its passages (notably those about his elementary years) read more like individual diary entry blurbs than a connected, coherent memoir. Sometimes, certain stories within this memoir feel like irrelevant tangents. Other times, the storyline jumps around a bit, which can lead to confusion. This lack of organization is especially disappointing because Bill Welker’s memories are fascinating and well-written; they could just use some reorganization and better transitions between them.

Aside from this one glaring drawback, The Sparrow’s Spirit is an enchanting and overwhelmingly relatable memoir. Bill Welker manages to capture the naïve innocence of childhood, the uncertainty of adolescence, and the dark reality of depression all in this short book. Although some of his content is certainly more serious and straightforward, Welker’s narrative is always compassionate and introspective, injected with just enough humor to leave the reader feeling lighthearted and engaged. This book is sure to resonate with any reader, as we can all surely see bits of our own transformative journeys in the one that Bill Welker shares with us in The Sparrow’s Spirit.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Nowhere Else I’d Want to Be: A Memoir – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Carol D. Marsh

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is Carol Marsh’s heart-wrenching memoir of her time living and working at Miriam’s House in Washington, D.C. She founded Miriam’s House in 1996, as a place for homeless women suffering with AIDS and addiction to receive the care, shelter, and safety that they so desperately needed. In providing for these women, who came from backgrounds incredibly different than her own, Carol had to learn to face her own shortcomings: privilege, discrimination, poor leadership skills, and an overwhelming, yet often denied, desire to be liked. In doing so, she, along with the staff and residents of Miriam’s House, transformed it into a safe haven for victims of AIDS and their families, saving dozens of lives in more ways than one. 

In terms of content, Nowhere Else I Want to Be is certainly not the easiest book to read. It is rife with tragedy, from abandonment to parental neglect, devastating illness to inevitable death. It weighs on the heartstrings in a manner that most books cannot achieve, largely because the stories Carol Marsh shares are all real. These “characters,” who often seem larger than life in some respects, existed once, and now, do not. It’s an awful feeling, to fall in love with each quirky, lovable woman as Carol did, only to be forced to face their eventual demise. However, the tender tone in which each woman is described is admirable and honorable, shining a spotlight of love and acceptance on an otherwise horrific life. It’s devastating, but profound, in all the best ways.  

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is not a book easily defined, as it balances perfectly the qualities of humor, love, sadness, disdain, and acceptance, combined into one spectacular memoir. Carol Marsh takes her readers on the same journey she once walked, alongside society’s forgotten as they struggle to better themselves, contribute to communities who continuously reject them, and just survive, at any cost. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy, but it is forever worth it. Nowhere Else I Want to Be is a treasure as much as it is a tragedy, if for nothing else, for Carol’s bold, dignified, and honest approach to a truth best not left forgotten.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Grand Gypsy – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Ottavio Gesmundo with Ottavio Canestrelli

The Grand Gypsy: A Memoir is the enchanting story of Ottavio Canestrelli, an Italian circus performer. Born into a circus family several generations long, Canestrelli was raised under a makeshift big-top, performing alongside his family members and a colorful menagerie. As an adult, he traveled the world, both as a performer and while in the army. He shares his stories of growing up in a circus, living and fighting through both World Wars, crossing paths with grand historical figures like Gandhi, and carrying on the legacy of the Canestrelli Circus. After Canestrelli passed away, his grandson, Ottavio Gesmundo, polished and published his grandfather’s memoir, honoring the man he knew as The Grand Gypsy.

This book opens with a quote by author, historian, and editor, Dominique Jando: “Artists from old Italian circus families are the keepers of a precious wealth of historical knowledge.” That alone sums up Ottavio Canestrelli’s memoir perfectly. His words are, quite simply, precious. His life experiences and unique voice in sharing them help shed a new light on one of the most fascinating and tumultuous eras in history. Peppered with additional text from his grandson, Gesmundo, and a plethora of captivating historical photographs, The Grand Gypsy is an outstanding literary experience from beginning to end.

The Grand Gypsy is equal parts an entertaining portrait of circus life, a war drama, a heartwarming snapshot of family life, and a thrilling memoir. By the end of the book, Ottavio and the Canestrelli family feel welcome and familiar, as if all who read The Grand Gypsy: A Memoir are now truly a part of the Canestrelli legacy, too.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Covered

Today’s Featured Author and Book

The Covered

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Book Description:

Upon graduating from Purdue University, Alexis Nicole White decides to relocate to the Land of Opportunity – Atlanta, Georgia. While in pursuit of her dreams, her passion for journalism grows cold. After meeting a variety of people who pledged to help her, Alexis is introduced to a world of trouble. Realizing all that glitters is not gold, Alexis finds herself in the middle of drama that is full of deceit and mischief.After being betrayed by a friend, she’s left all alone in a strange city. Tormented by her decisions, Alexis has to decide what is best for her sanity. Not sure who to trust, Alexis decides to activate her faith in God, proving that she is Covered, above all. Will she return home as a failure? Or, will she conquer the fight of her life to survive the mean streets of Atlanta?


Alexis Nicole White

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Alexis Nicole White was born in Gary, Indiana, where she lived with her grandparents. Raised an only child, Alexis developed a passion for the arts; reading, writing and acting. As early as middle school, she began to expand upon her creative talents by writing books, plays and even publishing poetry. In college, her talents grew into professional journalism with blogging, radio and television.  After moving to Atlanta to pursue her career in journalism, Alexis’ passion for writing became stagnant after not being able to secure a full-time paying position. Still, she has used her voice to empower the disenfranchised and promote awareness to various social problems. Currently, Alexis is raising awareness to emotional abuse disguised in forms of deceit, mischief and betrayal in her memoir, The Covered


Learn more at AlexisNicoleWhite.com.


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Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

 

 


Have you checked out the 2016 Book Awards Contest yet?

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

Authors Talk About It Book Award Contest

Whether you’re a first time author or a New York Times Best Seller this book award contest is for you.

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!


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The Memoirs of I

Today’s Featured Author and Book

The Memoirs of I

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Book Description:

“To make one think is to change a generation, to build one thought is to grow a better world.”

In The Memoirs of ‘I’, De Iuliis covers the years 2014 to 2015, providing a daily encounter with her writings, visions, dreams and thoughts, allowing you to see the world from a different perspective.

 


Yolanda De Iuliis

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Yolanda De Iuliis was born in North Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1985. She grew up with an Italian/Irish background which soon led to an awareness of identity confusion within herself. From the age of 20 she left the countryside to explore not only city life but to encounter the other side of the world and for over ten years has been travelling to every continent to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. After ten years of writing and collecting her autobiographical poetry she published Underneath my Soul (2015) which shows her growing from adolescence to adulthood using only poetry as a means of telling her story.

De Iuliis resides in her home town of Irvine, Ayrshire, for the time being and her current academic venture is Classical Studies combined with Modern Greek. French and Greek philosophies have also been studied and observed to motivate her mind in producing different thoughts and ideas. Her passion to write and provide an insight for others is not only her mission but her reason to exist.

Learn more at YolandaDeIuliis.com.


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of Memoirs of “I”.


Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

 

 


Have you checked out the 2016 Book Awards Contest yet?

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

Authors Talk About It Book Award Contest

Whether you’re a first time author or a New York Times Best Seller this book award contest is for you.

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!


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The Hooker’s Daughter

At the tender age of six, Dale Stanten, was opening the front door for her mother’s johns. She and her sister were often used by “props” by her mother such as times her mother would take them to the movies, but instead of actually going to the movies with them Dale’s mother would leave the girls at the movie and go somewhere else with her boyfriend. Then the girls would be expected to lie to their father about where their mom really was.

Have you already judged Dale’s mom? Well, guess what. Dale says that her mom taught her to be kind to others and not shame them! She must have understood what it felt like to be shamed by others. Not only was Dale’s mom a prostitute, a thief, a wife, a mother, a girlfriend (as she had a boyfriend on the side for years), but she saved her family from poverty in perhaps the only way she knew how to.

Pic Book Cover-1Get a copy. 

From early on Dale knew she had to be strong, and she struggled to be “normal” – “whatever normal is/was”.  The key is to turn your flaws into flowers.

Tweet: Turn your flaws into flowers. - Dale Stanten, The Hooker's Daughter via @authorstalk http://ctt.ec/OcwEf+Tweet: Turn your flaws into flowers. – Dale Stanten, The Hooker’s Daughter via @authorstalk http://ctt.ec/OcwEf+


Pic New Dale Picture at Beach

While raising her young family, Dale Stanten obtained her RN degree and practiced psychiatric nursing. She parlayed her medical and extensive sales experience to become CEO of her Destination Management Company which for twenty years organized conventions, corporate events, and meetings for local, national, and international guests. Dale conducted numerous educational seminars and assisted in developing a tourism college degree program.

She serves on the North Shore Board of Juvenile Scholarship Aid, volunteered as a Big Sister, and is an active member of Power of Women, National Association of Women on the Rise, and The Arizona Humanities Consortium for the Arts. A life-long learner, she studies Kabbalah and Torah and shares her personal journey to encourage others to rise above their circumstances, no matter how difficult, using their inner strength to determine the course of their own lives. She resides in Boston and Phoenix with her husband.  

Learn more at TheHookersDaughter.com.


Fascinated by why each of thinks is normal life,

Drs. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D.

 

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He was the Constant Outsider

The environment we grow up in and continue to live in often just seems normal.  Doesn’t everyone know criminals and mobsters?  Um…perhaps not.  However, Tom grew up in scary and shockingly, colorful part of Boston during James “Whitey” Bulger’s heyday.

It all seemed normal to him – the buying of “hot” goods out of trunks of cars; the requests to hold secretive poker games in his shop; the offer to “get rid of” someone who didn’t deliver what he paid for.  The key for Tom was NOT turning to crime.  He chose not to cross the line and join the criminal side of life, but boy oh boy, does he have a lot of stories.

After writing his memoir and sharing his fascinating and sometimes, hilarious, tales, he created a novel focused on his experiences.  What if…what if he had take the other road and chosen a path filled with crime?  What might have happened?  Tom’s novel explores just that idea and makes for an interesting companion to his memoir.

Memoir  Get your copy of the memoir.

#20-Why_I_Wrote_67_Cents  Get your copy of the novel.

 


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Tom Cirignano authored two books. His autobiography, titled, The Constant Outsider: Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic, gives readers a chilling look at what went on in South Boston during the 1970’s and ’80s, the era of Mobster Whitey Bulger’s “reign of terror,” as Tom calls it. Due to its time and place in Boston’s tumultuous history, along with the situations and people Tom encountered, The Constant Outsider is an exciting story in its own right. But in Tom’s second book, titled 67 Cents: Creation of a Killer, he explores an even more bizarre existence. In this fictional adaptation of his memoir, Tom answers the following question which had lurked in the back of his mind for years. “How might my life have evolved had I taken the path to crime and violence which truly was available to me ?”

Learn more at http://www.theconstantoutsider.com.


Intrigued while laughing our butts off,

Dr. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D.

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