Category Archives: writing

Book Review- Me & Him: A Guide To Recovery

Happy Friday to all of my readers, writers and authors! I’m bringing you the last in a month long series focused upon the Memoir. It has been a wild ride and I’ve loved and learned from all of you great story-tellers:) I hope you all picked up gems that will assist you on your journey to telling your truths. We’re seen so much community from lovers of the written word in every genre and I hope to keep the momentum going in the thrilling reads ahead!.Today, I’m introducing the work of a woman whose story will resonate with anyone personally connected or diagnosed with a mental illness.


Me & Her: A Memoir Of Madness is Karen Tyrrell’s personal journey of Bipolar Disorder. She shares with us how she spiraled out of control after suffering constant harassment and abuse from the parents of a student she was teaching. The abuse, according to the author would span over a year. Me & Her, have gotten rave reviews from professionals in the Mental healthcare industry, colleagues and readers worldwide. Karen, however, isn’t finished with her story.

Karen recently published Me & Him A Guide To Recovery and the second book that serves as a teaching guide for people who are suffering from Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses. This book introduces readers to tips on how to become pro active in recognizing triggers that offset their illness and how to incorporate coping skills into their daily routines in order to help them better cope with their illness.

The author stresses how recovery process is different for every individual, requiring different medications, treatments and management skills. She encourages continued counseling and to embrace positive psychology as a positive trans-formative experience. Karen says that by being proactive in her own diagnosis and treatment, she hasn’t had an episode since 2006. There’s a mound of positives for recovery in this book, including sessions on how to live in the now, practicing mindfulness, managing your triggers,balancing your emotions, meditation techniques, nutrition, exercise and so much more. Karen’s goal in writing her books is to ‘humanize’ mental illness and she has accomplished her mission.

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As I read Me & Him, I couldn’t help but consider, although the focus is clearly a well-being guide for people who suffer from mental illness, I also felt it was one of those books that could just as well empower everyone in their daily lives who wanted to live a balanced life. I reached out to the author for her thoughts.

I envisaged my “Guide” to be an empowering resource for those who want to recover from mental illness and remain stable.
And for everyone who wants to be mentally happy.
My recovery and resilience skills evolved from personal successes, the same tips proven by wellness experts.

Karen Tyrrell BEST 457 KB

Karen Tyrrell is a multi-genre Brisbane author, passionate mental health advocate, teacher, and accredited speaker. She was the co-ordinator of Logan Writers collective 2010-13.
Karen presents the Life Writing program and Resilience Training workshop to hospitals, wellness centres and the workplace. She presents creative writing workshops to schools and memoir writing workshops to libraries.

Learn more about Karen at

Have you or anyone you know been diagnosed with mental illness? Please share your experiences with us.

What’s Keeping You From Writing Your Memoir?

thJames Frey

Happy Friday to all brave souls who have answered the call to write! Writing is hard, but, you know you’ve done it well, when it flows so easily on the page. You people are my kind of folk:) If you haven’t already heard, the month of April will be dedicated to the memoirist who have written or in the act of writing their truths.

To some degree, I’ve harbored thoughts of how friends and family might feel after reading my story. Would they be hurt? disappointed? disagreeable? Would they be offended? Nagging thoughts of what other people think can hinder someone wanting to write their memoir. Frankly, I wasn’t too bummed out when a virus attack and no backup system totally destroyed 40,000 words to my less than stellar attempts to write my memoir a few years ago. Now, that I’ve written a little personal e-book, A Life Toward Authenticity-My Authentic Woman Story :)I realize that my truths are mine and mine alone. Memoir writers have to have thick skins.

When Oprah Winfrey touted James Frey for his memoir “A Million Little Pieces” back in 2006, I was one of many who ran out to purchase his masterpiece. I was inspired by his courage and saddened by the death of his girlfriend… and then, James Frey fell from grace for fabricating important details in his book. A memoir is based on ones’ truth-their authentic stories. Stories that could affect any number of people in any number of ways. What James Frey did was wrong, in that he called his story “memoir” I was reluctant to tell certain details of my story and that’s okay. No one need tell every detail in the telling of their story. And ,there are creative ways to get around hurt feelings, but, lies have no place in truth writing.

Should memoir writers use avoidance where it could be a pivotal point in the story? I think I’d prefer reading a work devoid of certain facts, instead of one filled with inconsistencies and fabrications. If James Frey had labeled his story a work of fiction, he could have avoided the fallout from his distorting the truth. So, how much is too much in the telling of your story and why should you care, as long as it’s based on the facts as you remember them occurring in your life?


It’s difficult to write ones memoir. Even if you have had a wonderful life, it’s not easy to share with others. When I wrote my memoir, “Of Roots and Wings,” I committed myself to total honesty. In my heart and soul the truth would set me free – but only if I were honest. For two years my rational thoughts considered who I might offend, did my sisters see things differently than me?, would I expose people I had put on a pedestal for years of my life? Will there by retribution by the church for clergy abuse? Will there be repercussions from the mafia by exposing the truth, from a little girls perspective? Will my abusive ex-spouse seek me out ? Such a myriad and cyclonic dervish wind surrounded me. One night while drifting off to sleep, I carefully considered sharing my pain and triumphs with an audience. Somewhere in the night, I awoke and realized that most of the pain in my life had been kept hidden – once shared my pain eased. Then I heard a clear, confident voice from within –what has been the purpose of my life if not to share it with others? In so doing, others may be encouraged by my experiences, thoughts, and feelings. I decided to share my memoir and offer inspiration and hope to others. My memoir has done that and more I am truly blessed.

Julie Swope,

thmary and jane

Mary Williams, the adopted daughter of Jane Fonda, have said in interviews that she refused to listen to the star when she wanted to confide in Mary about the deterioration of her 10 year marriage to Ted Turner. One can only imagine how the story would have read, if Mary Williams had been made privy to the actual cause of the Jane Fonda/Ted Turner divorce. The brave people who write their authentic truths, for whatever reason, always stir emotions in their readers, in some form or fashion. I’m encouraged by reading the truths of others.

Are you hesitant about writing your memoir because you fear what others might think or you fear the possibility of hurting a loved one? Did you read a Million Little Pieces? Any thoughts you’d like to share?

The Memoir & Personal Story Surge…


Happy Friday, readers and writers. The thing I’ve noticed over the span of the last 6 years, is how much we’ve come to share our love for “Story.” When I first started writing online (reluctantly gave up my Smith Corona) it was all about ‘blogging’ and getting to a place of PROMINENCE by blogging with the “big dogs”, of which there are many well-known accomplished folks. Here I was, blogging from a “writer’s” perspective; wondering if I might not ever grace the table among the bigwigs. Consistency in my love for story keeps me afloat in this writing arena and this is where I’m supposed to be.

Well, wonders never cease. These days, nearly everybody is turning a keen eye to writing and sharing their personal stories. When James Frye came under fire from Oprah and other critics for lying about his personal story in A Million Little Pieces, I was attempting to write my own truths… After losing the first 40,000 words of the work to computer virus and no back up files, I became disillusioned and put the idea aside. Needless to say, like a lot of writers, struggling to return to story, I welcomed sage advice of authors who had traveled the publishing path.

Where bloggers and blogging became the new ‘Black’, seemingly, story has become ‘Evergreen.’ April is National Poetry Month ( my beginnings) but, we’re going to spend the weeks ahead discussing the Memoir. I’m reading Home Sweet Hardwood, an inspiring book by one of the first women to play in the sport of women’s basketball back when it was deemed “taboo.”


I’m so enjoying Pat Mckinzie’s amazing memoir. Naturally, I’ll be having a conversation with several memoirists who have agreed to share their expertise with you guys. I cannot wait to welcome them to the forum:)

It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a personal essay, short story or working on your novel…you’ll want to be right here this month for insights, introductions and community discussions on writing the memoir. Meanwhile, I’ve included some other great reads in this genre you might want to check out. My essay, Second Time Around, appears in When One Door Closes; the first book in the Reflections on Life’s Turning Points series by Terri Spahr Nelson.


The moment

Have any of you guys started or completed your memoir? Care to share your writing experience in this genre? Anyhew, STORY is the thing, and it’s high time writer, you began to share your awesomeness with the world.

Happy writing!

Building a Mystery By Author Anne Marie Stoddard

Happy Friday readers and writers! Please join me in welcoming Mystery Author, Anne Marie Stoddard to Clara’s writer’s forum.


It’s no secret that I’m a lover of mysteries (and as you can tell from the title of this post, the secret’s out that I’m also an old school Sarah McLachlan fan—everyone has their guilty pleasures!). I grew up reading everything from the Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes’ series to Agatha Christie. Lately I’ve been enjoying some great who-dunnit’s from Charlaine Harris, Victoria Laurie, Madelyn Alt, and P.J. Morse. There’s just something so satisfying about curling up with a good puzzle in book form and challenging myself to solve the crime before the author reveals the culprit. Sometimes, I can point out the killer by the end of the second chapter, and other times an author leaves me stumped right up until the guilty party reveals him or herself.
It’s that exhilarating feeling of piecing the clues together along with the characters that led me to write my first mystery novel, “Murder At Castle Rock.” Why not? I thought to myself as I begin typing the first page of Chapter One. I’m pretty good at solving them when I’m in the reader’s shoes, writing my own should be a piece of cake—right? Not exactly. Still, it can be done, and here are the lessons I learned along the way:
Use an Outline to Plan Your Clues
One very important part of the writing process for most authors is creating an outline for the plot and scenes of the story. Sure, there are quite a few “pantsers” out there—myself included—who simply start from scratch and let the story evolve as they write, with little to no sense of direction. Plenty of books have been written this way and turned out great, but not planning ahead can often lead you to writing your characters into a corner that you can’t write them out of. I started writing “Murder At Castle Rock” with no outline, and I found my characters reaching dead ends (no pun intended) every couple of chapters. If I had created a full outline before I began writing, I might have saved myself a LOT of rewriting and stress!
Writing an outline helps you to put all your cards on the table before you begin the writing process. If you determined who committed the crime, you’ve got to decide where it’s best to drop some hints for your readers. In any mystery, readers want to pick up on clues along the way that help them narrow down the suspects along with the detectives. Make rational decisions about where to place your clues—is the killer the town baker? Perhaps you can include a hint in Chapter 4 where the sleuth smells yeast or finds a white powder at the crime scene that turns out to be flour.
Your Characters Know the Story Better Than You Do—It’s Their Story, After All
This will sound like almost the opposite of the advice that I gave above about outlines, but just hear me out: Sometimes during the writing process, you have to concede from your own ideas about a scene and let your characters do the writing. Get to know your main character—step into her two-inch heels for a minute and see your way through a scene through her eyes. It’s best to ultimately stick to your outline in order to arrive at the desired end result, but sometimes you have to let your characters decide how to get there. Would my main character, Amelia, run away if she heard footsteps behind her—or would she turn around and make a snarky comment to her stalker before defending herself? Once you’ve developed a character, make sure that his or her actions reflect his or her personality—not yours.
Get Creative to Keep it Interesting
If you’ve got an understanding of how to logically place your clues and plan your story, that’s awesome! Still, in order to write a mystery novel that will leave your readers craving more, you have to keep it interesting—it’s time to flex your creative muscles!
Here’s an example: Would you rather read a book about a detective who goes to the office every day, solves a crime from his desk, and then goes home to bed—or would you rather read about a crime-solving supermodel who goes undercover at fashion shoots to track down a ring of high-end designers who are producing their clothing in sweat shops?
See, it’s easy to plan a Plain Jane story that doesn’t include much action—but you’ve got to get creative in order to pull readers along to the end. Choose a fun or interesting setting (like the fashion industry), and create characters that have personality. Give them quirks, fears, doubts, ambitions—there should be more at stake in your novel than simply finding out who killed the mailman. In the model example, perhaps if our heroine doesn’t catch the culprits and shut down the sweatshops in time, New York Fashion Week will be cancelled. (And perhaps the mail man was killed because he was delivering photographs of the guilty parties to someone who wanted to turn them in to the police!)
Writing your own mystery is an invaluable learning experience that will test your own wit, creativity, and deductive reasoning skills—and the story you create might surprise even you!

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About the Author:
Anne Marie Stoddard is a mystery author and writing tip blogger in Atlanta, GA. Her music industry thriller, “Murder At Castle Rock,” was the winner of the 2012 AJC Decatur Book Festival & BookLogix Publishing Service, Inc. Writing Contest, and it will be published in April 2013.
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Why Entering Contests Can Be “Fierce” For Your Business

I’ve put in a few “guest posts” over the last month and frankly, I’m tired:) But, people have been so generous at these awesome sites, that I’m working on another. Until then,I thought I’d gift myself with another of my guest posts don’t you love contests? Me too…

Suffice it to say I’ve been entering contests for a very long time, can you say, Sweepstakes Clearing House? Now that you have an idea of just how long I’ve been entering contests, let’s talk about how contests can increase your online presence and open the gateway to your business.  When entering contests, be selective.  Okay, so, through trial and error, I learned the Clearing House thing wasn’t exactly the way to go.

Ask what’s in it for you? Seriously, you’re just reversing the “contest protocol’ because contests are designed with the idea of self promotion in mind and you should know up front what your benefit will be.

 The more people participate, the more people will want to know who is behind the greatest contest ever! To be clear, the ruse/rule above applies to contests and not to your business.  Every entrepreneur knows that the client is always right and if they’re not, be tactful in your response in soling the problem. To be a success in business, you must be steeped in integrity and trust.

Now that we’ve gotten the preliminaries out-of-the-way, I’m going to provide a few important dos and don’t when offering contests and how the right approach to your contest will add fierce traffic and awesome clients to your  business Rolodex.


  1. Don’t get all big-headed and think you’re the only fish in the sea with an idea for contest promotion: Businesses are competitive and contests are great incentives to keep abreast of the competition and gain more clients.
  2. Avoid another book giveaway:  I’m a reader and I love books, but, with the onslaught of available down loads of ebooks from people sites, I’d pass up entering your contest.
  3. Don’t overwhelm with details: Entering contests should be a breeze for the contestants.
  4. Don’t charge an outlandish fee to enter your contest: I know this is business, not a writing competition, but, it is not cool to milk your contestants and take the ‘fun’ out of submitting.
  5. Do not avoid answering questions about your contest, as you might have forgotten something of importance to the contestant.


  1. Be original: don’t copy what Ms. Coffee is offering on her site. Do your research and come up with an original- make it their ‘must’ have.
  2. Snoop: Okay, I said not to copy, I didn’t say not to check them out to see what you’re not going to offer as a great prize winner.
  3. Advertise: How else are people going to know about your awesome contest? This is the time to use every social media outlet online and if you’re really proactive- offline as well.
  4. Post a deadline and stick to it: When people are given instruction, they don’t like change. If you say the contest ends at the stroke of midnight, a week from whatever, darn it let it end on a week from whatever!
  5. Have fun with it: Contests are meant to invoke happy endorphins-make it a fun and memorable process.

These are my experiences as an avid contest entrant and sometimes winner. Use them and your business and finance pockets could become a “fierce” force to be reckoned with!

That’s one of my pic taken on vacation-think it will place in a contest?
Photo credit: Clara Freeman-author