Camp Hope  

Posted by Wishwords

I want to direct you to a great article I read today. A man lost his son, PFC Christopher Neal White, in Iraq. Christopher loved the outdoors. In order to create a living memorial to Christopher, the family purchased 180 acres near Farmington, MO, near my own hometown. They are turning it into a place for disabled veterans to hunt, camp, hike and just enjoy the outdoors. They are building a handicap accessible lodge, the plans for which were donated by a vet. Go check it out:

Blogging about views  

Posted by Wishwords

As someone writing a memoir about Iraq, I suppose I'm expected to have opinions on the war, KBR, independent contractors, and such. I do. I'm just never sure how to express them in a blog. When I read articles about these subjects, I usually compare them to my personal experiences and notice that my views are sometimes significantly different than those of the person writing the article. That leads me to believe that posting those views as snippets in a blog isn't the best way to make myself understood. Readers need all the context that comes with living the experience because experience colors point of view. Hopefully, the memoir will provide that.

One thing I can say, I like the articles about people coming home, battlefield compassion, and deserved recognition best.

Back from the conference  

Posted by Wishwords

I was surprised at how much enthusiasm there was for my memoir when I spoke to people about it. The agents were all very nice and positive. Some of them gave me the answers I've been looking for about how to handle the subject of negative things in my story, and renewed my own enthusiasm for the book.

I'm hard at work revising the first fifty pages that a few agents asked for and revamping both this blog and my website.

Inspirations/the memoir - The Things They Carried  

Posted by Wishwords

Several weeks ago, I popped into Half Price Books and asked the clerk where I might find books by Tim O'Brian... and before I could finish she gave me directions. It's not very often that I find clerks who know of just about every author in the store. They had several copies of The Things They Carried, which is the one I was looking for.

I read the first page and set it down. There was just too much going on to read this type of book for pleasure. A couple of days ago I picked it back up and am now plowing through it. As I read along, I keep making notes about my memoir. It's not that I want to copy his style, I just keep seeing why his memoir sections work and know that I can use the same technique to improve mine. I'm getting inspired to work on Desert Queen again. In fact, I'm going to work on it today and tomorrow and take the first chapter with me to the conference in case anyone I talk to about memoirs wants to see it.

This is one of the first books where I really notice author voice. I can tell the difference between the bits he has written from personal memory and the bits he's written from something someone told him. It's the difference between memoir and fiction. I need that knowledge.

I'm very enamored with his skill at using sentence structure in the title story. In some places he uses a full paragraph of short sentences describing objects the men carry and then as you are into the rhythm he sideswipes you at the end with a sentence about some quality or emotion they carry. Then he'll have a paragraph with a very long, yet grammatically correct, sentence that rushes you headlong and breathless until the giddy end. I know other authors do this, but now I know enough to understand what I'm seeing. Perhaps it's the distinct contrast between the styles that he uses.

You know how writing books talk about new authors copying older authors' voices? I've never understood that until now. I will have to be careful to develop my own voice rather than try to copy Tim. The only other author I find so tempting is Alma Alexander with her Jin Shei books.

Yes, I see how distant my voice is in my memoir. That can not be. It's about emotions; I must make them real for the reader.