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How To Write
Books & Audiobooks, Books &
A Course that helped me

Sorry for any errors on the tips & how to pages. I'm doing this fast.

I would not recommend this book in audiobook form just because I listened to it once. I bought this when it was available in cassette form, and I now have it as an audio file. You can get the Audible edition or the CD edition.

This is my most influential book on writing. Get the audiobook, not the book. She read her own writing, and you will hear her laugh at times at her own writing, and tear up at some parts that were sad and poignant.

You will find her laughter, and sometimes sad, voice, reassuring, knowing full well that as you write your own memoir, you will laugh at times and tear up at times. To be interesting to your audience, flip flop your stories. Funny, sad, funny, sad, funny, sad.

Please read the description in the Amazon.com website.

I would not recommend this book just because I read it. I've read this more than once.

There was even a time when I misplaced my copy at home, that when time came when I wanted to write again, I decided to buy a second copy to reread.

When I found my first copy, and a friend told me he had plans to write, I gave him my second copy. When he unexpectedly died in 2016, I posted three words on his Facebook page: "Save the cat!"

Please read the description in the Amazon.com website.

For this section, let me tell you why the author titled it "Save the Cat." He said that in order that the viewers of a movie would root for the main character, you, the writer, should show a small incident of goodness or greatness at the beginning of the movie, or at the beginning of the script. Superman the Movie, the first one with Christopher Reeve, and Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's) both showed that they "saved the cat" around the beginning. In Holly Golightly's case, she additionally showed how important it was to save the cat again at the last scene.

Each chapter of Blake Snyder's book has a technique of storytelling to consider. Look at yourself as the main character. Flip the lessons from writing a screenplay to writing you memoir.

The link is to the abridged version of his book. If you have the patience, look for the unabridged version.

I like to listen to his work every once in a while. His lessons on screenwriting have been helpful for me writing my memoirs.

One again, look at yourself as if you're the main character. Find your main story, then write all your supporting chapters that support your main theme. If you have a few unrelated stories or chapters, write them, but take them to the next book. You will notice you'll have a book and other stories for other books.

Please read the description in the Amazon.com website.

This is by James N. Frey, not by James Frey. James Frey without the "N." wrote a memoir that was discovered to be a work of fiction. James N. Frey is the writer who has written a lot of books on how to write.

This book is memorable, because I realized that when we write our memoirs, the reader still looks for the mythical character. As we write, we have to find a way to write our personalities in a "mythical" way, wherein we become the hero. There are ways to depict that, even in the smallest events in our lives.

Please read the description in the Amazon.com website.

You must know how much I recommend this 2-day course in filmmaking.

This is one of those courses, where I am hoping you will need to learn so much just so you can understand how you might want to proceed as a writer of screenplays, which would hopefully translate into writing memoirs.

Consider this as one-upping the competition, other artists, by knowing more than what is expected of you. If you become aware of the film industry, there is a chance where your memoir might turn out to become a good film. A great example would be Augusten Burroughs, whose work, Running with Scissors, became a move. He is not the only one whose memoir had been turned into a movie.

I went to Indiana to volunteer for a 4-week medical study around 2007. I met this man who was a staff writer, first for the Jeffersons and then for Sanford and Son. He told me that if I wanted to be a serious writer but don't have much time to devote to understanding the craft and knowing about Hollywood, I must go to Dov Simens 2-day seminar about the Hollywood filmmaking business. He told me he isn't in Hollywood anymore, and the work dried up for him after the two shows he was a staff writer in, but it was fun when he did his time.

Through the years I would look at where the course was given. The most optimal locations I could be in were Florida and New York City. Unfortunately, my budget and time just could not meet.

The seminar finally came to Chicago. All I needed to do was to pay for the course, and take the bus. It took Dov Simens years to finally get to Chicago.

I had already gotten the DVD version of the series. Back then, the dvd talkekd about getting your film into Blockbuster, which had already been overshadowed by Netflix and other online services and Red Box. However, the other 99% of the lessons and tips were still good. As soon as I paid to attend the seminar, I played all the dvds 8 times over, from start to finish. I made sure I listed the questions I wanted to ask him during the seminar. I brought a printed copy of my only book then, Dollman the Musical, so I can show him I'm serious about writing. The book was a script for the stage, but it was still a script nonetheless.

At the seminar, I had already done my homework. I still made sure I took notes. I also bought some books from the table in the back.

I asked the smartest questions from the group, timed during the lecture, and some more afterwards. I hate to say this, but just about everyone was there hearing him for the first time. There were two people who asked valid questions. I would say they were valid to them, but they were not to me. I thought they could have asked better questions. The questions sounded as if they knew nothing of filmmaking and were there to instantly learn everything. It made me think that the reason they attended was to see if there was money in making movies, which meant that they weren't ready to hear him talk about the details, like what type of film and what cameras should be used and what should be avoided.

There is also something different about seeing the actual instructor in front of you.

I have to let you know an experience I had many years prior. I attended another seminar for songwriting and making it in the music industry. The presentation was not fully prepared. The group of associates talked about different parts of the business, but they seemed to have come from old school music industry. Match this situation with who the students would be. They were young people who have a "deadline" for themselves, because making it in the popular music industry includes the element of being young. I should say that we should be lucky to be visual artists. We could be as ugly and old as possible, we will still have a chance at succeeding in our professions. That seminar on songwriting and the music business was a fiasco. Some of the attendees lost their patience. They felt they learned nothing, and what the speakers were talking about were lessons they had already read somewhere. Have the patience to learn what you can learn for the duration of seminars. Don't expect every moment you paid for to be aha moments that will suddenly change your life.

Augusten Burroughs is a great example of someone who writes memoirs and has written more than 5.

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, instead of reading the book, because you can hear the author read his own work. This gives you an added dimension because it clues you in on how he paces himself when reading, which will also give you an idea of how he paces himself when writing.

You must also remember that he writes memoirs, and always has a new story to tell. If he has gotten into the habit of writing stories about his life, then so can others, and that includes you. Remember that writing your book is 1% writing and 99% editing. What he is reading has been edited and is the final product.

Augusten Burroughs actually renamed himself after Edgar Rice Burroughs. He also married his agent. I'm just mentioning this to remind you that everyone is unique, and you may hot have written a memoir yet. Don't compare yourself with others. Your luck is different.

Look into his age as well. I was once asked by a former elementary and high school schoolmate why I wrote memoirs at my still young age of 49. Since we were from the same grade level, I figured we were the same age. I told him my purpose was to sell my art. He understood, but Augusten Burroughs' first memoir was published in 2002, when he was 37 years old.

This says something about my friend as well. I pursued writing and he did not. I deliberately let my stories float to the surface. You will encounter the same type of friends and relatives. My suggestion for you is finish writing your books, get to B from A, finish you draft or your first book, before you expend your energy while still at A explaining to people what you have yet to finish.

It might be good for you to know that his first memoir that I was referring to earlier, was Running with Scissors, published in 2002 when he was 37 years old. Running with Scissors became a movie. Here is something more you might also want to know. He was sued by the family whom he mentioned in his book, because they claimed the book invaded their privacy and defamed them. He and the publisher settled out of court, with the condition that he not call his book a memoir.

Please read the description in the Amazon.com website.

I don't recommend this to underaged readers.

I was underaged when I read this raunchy book! I borrowed the paperback from my uncle, who had it in his shelf, around 1976. This may be one of the first, if not the first memoir I had ever read. I don't recall the details in the book anymore, but be rest assured that I enjoyed it.

Somewhere in the introduction, Xaviera Hollander explained that she was warned that her memoir was filled with illegal activities, including drugs, prostitution and illicit sex. She laughed it off and turned it into a joke. She said that she is officially not calling it a memoir, but a work of fiction. Everything in the book was fictional. This was funny, because as I read each story, I believed that she really did those unmentionable deeds, or I wanted to believe, because it added to the reading experience.

Whether The Happy Hooker is a true memoir or not, she still got published and the work is with people all over the world. Something good to know if you plan to write your memoir. Be funny and play with your readers.

I'm recommending this book to everyone at legal adult age because I wrote my first draft with this book in mind. I always told myself then, and even now, that if Xaviera Hollander can write a memoir the way she did, then I am okay with what I allow myself to write.

Please read the description in the Amazon.com website.

I highly recommend reading AND listening to the Harry Potter books. Start with Book 1.

I also highly recommend that you look for the audio cassettes and CDs where Stephen Fry was the narrator. Go online and discover the "war" between the two narrators, Jim Dale and Stephen Fry. I "grew up" listening to Stephen Fry. Jim Dale was used later.

The reason I highly recommend Stephen Fry and why I highly recommend that you listen to the audio version, is that the Harry Potter books "sung" to me. You will discover that JK Rowling's way of writing sounded hypnotic and seemed to rhyme and sing inside your head.

Here is a suggested activity for you. Go to your local library and pick some fantasy audiobooks in the juvenile and children section. Listen to them and compare them with JK Rowling's Harry Potter books. There is a difference in the way writers write their stories. I noticed that the way the Harry Potter books were written stood out, somehow, and it carried over to the way the books were read by the narrators. Most people, especially children, subvocalize the text they read. The readers "sang" the books into their heads as well. Not all the critics and how to write instructors talk about this.

When you have time, watch this movie if you haven't yet.

This movie taught me a few lessons on writing.

First, you can find support from a fellow writer, but the story gives the message that support from others can only go so far, after which you and your support group will still have to face writing separately.

Second, you and a friend may have the same topic to begin with. The way you write the same stories will be different. Danny De Vito's character wrote a children's book about Momma, while Billy Crystal's character wrote a novel about the same person, even after hanging out, attending the same writing class, and getting the same lessons from the same teacher.

Third, we should all support each other and be understanding of our limitations and personal progress. Envy, jealousy and conflicts can set in. Expect it and hope to be positive and supportive of each other, but don't hold each other back, and there will come the time when you have to face the keyboard alone.

Finally, I always remember the word that Momma said. "Sultry." She sarcastically explained that the night was sultry and not moist, stupid!! One single word made the main character finally decide that Momma should be killed and thrown off the train.

The message this gave me, was that as we write, we should forgive ourselves for not using the best words and terms. Sometimes the better words come later, during editing. Sometimes it just would not.

I have to tell you a real story. I knew someone who used the word "moist" while describing a sultry evening, exactly like in the movie. We were a group of artists from the theatre group I was in for decades. This guy asked for us to hear and critique his essay. I had just recently seen the movie Throw Momma from the Train.

I still felt inadequate as a writer then. I already had a monthly column in a free community paper in Chicago, but in my mind, I had a VHS copy of Dead Poet's Society in my movie collection which I just seemed to not care to watch. My creative friends including him had been raving about Dead Poets Society while I had just enjoyed Throw Momma from the Train.

I made a suggestion, "What about 'sultry'? The night was sultry?" I never told him I just watched Throw Momma from the Train. In my mind, I was surprised he hadn't. No one would use the word "moist" to describe an evening's ambience after watching that movie.

His story described being in Paris at a cafe and observing a woman who looked classy. When his story ended, I suggested the word "sultry." I saw his face get sour. He hated my suggestion! I stopped at that. My next suggestion was that he missed leading us to the lesson to be learned. What he succeeded in telling us was that he was in Paris at a cafe. It sounded like he was just showing off, waiting for us to get envious.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, publish your work, even if it stinks. Your goal is to publish a book. Only get a critique once it's published. Do not trust friends, do not trust anyone who has nothing to gain from your progress.

Are you pressed for time to finish your memoir?

Here is how I manage to write and still learn from books on writing. Get one book on writing that you feel is best at the moment. Read it through. Take notes.

You will notice that like me, you will discover lessons beyond books on how to write memoirs.

Write and finish your book following the tips from that one single how to write book. You'll become aware of what you will need to work on. The goal for you is to come up with your first book. Know that your first book will never be perfect. The next one will be better.

While taking a break from your next book project, you can read another one or two books on writing. Then, once again, write your next book. You can even base your next style of writing on the last book you just learned from.

I personally have become aware of how I write. I now tend to trust myself and know that there is a lot of room for improvement. I may know techniques, but they don't always get used, and that's fine with me.

Early on, I also discovered that writers and editors have different ways of redoing a written draft. My sister, who is a professional editor, volunteered to edit my first manuscript. My sentences and paragraphs got reinterpreted. This showed me that there are many ways to skin a cat. You have to start writing, finish the writing project, and continue writing some more. You will learn new things while producing more than one book.

One final thing. I'm showing you how to write based on the lessons I learned through the years. When you finish writing your book, and you ask your friends to critique your work, DO NOT tell them each and every specific technique that you used. You're back to being a writer, and your friends become readers. They only expect to read and critique your work. Don't give them details about your secret writing techniques. You should also not be anal in justifying and explaining your writing. If you feel you need to do that to one person, then expect to do the same thing to all of your future readers. At that point, congratulations, because you've joined the club of writers and memoirists, and you have become aware that your next book will be better.