Now before we get started I must announce the winners from last week's session. The winner of the critique is Zan Marie and the winner of the e-book is Kari White. Congratulations ladies. Contact N. R. Williams directly for your goodies. Her email is: email@example.com
Ann Carbine Best was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She now lives in the Shenandoah Valley, her favourite place, where she is full-time caregiver of her disabled daughter. Ann lives not far from her and Larry's other three children and seven grandchildren. She started writing when she was in elementary school, and for sixty years has never stopped. During this time she gained a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing. Over the years, she has published and won awards for stories, personal essays, and poetry, and is currently plotting a MG novel, a YA novel and two novella-length memoirs. Her first full-length memoir, In the Mirror, is scheduled for publication by WiDo Publishing company this spring.
“I’ve lived long enough,” she says, “to write memoir.”
Over to you, Ann. Tell us about your writing journey.
Thank you Denise and welcome to you all here today. My journey is longer than most of the speakers who have addressed this enthusiastic group, but this just proves that every writer's journey is unique.
I was born in 1940. The Forties and Fifties was a great time to grow up. I was born at the beginning of World War Two, but I don’t remember anything about it. But I do remember the first story I wrote. I was in sixth grade. “Call of the Canyon” was its title. I don’t remember anything about it, but I do remember that the teacher had very shy me stand in front of the class and read it.
This hooked me on writing, and performing (I did oratory and debate in high school).
I didn’t buy books. I couldn’t afford them. During my teenage years, I rode my bicycle spring, summer, and fall to the local library, and checked out historical fiction and short story collections. I read a lot of the O. Henry Award stories. I loved the short story.
I loved reading and writing as far back as I can remember. It was my main interest (I also liked photography but never had the money to buy the equipment). My goal was always to be a published writer.
When I was about eleven, I started reading my country cousins’ collection of Nancy Drew mysteries. I wanted to write one like them. I couldn’t compose very well on Mama’s old Underwood typewriter, and so when I was twelve, in longhand on pencil tablets I wrote two Susan Benson mysteries. I also began writing improbable romances, all of them long since lost. The only romance I vaguely remember was based on a song from the Fifties: “Blue Star when I am blue, all I do is look at you.” I laboriously typed it then sent it to Redbook magazine. It promptly came back, rejected.
This was the golden age of the magazine market. Oh, those were the days! Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, McCall’s, Collier’s, the weekly Saturday Evening Post all published short stories. There were also several prominent teen magazines. I was a senior in high school when I submitted a short story to a Seventeen magazine contest. My name appeared with several others who received special commendation.
As an undergraduate in college, I took all the creative writing and literature classes I could handle. My stories, essays, and poems were published in the campus magazines. I won awards for some of them.
I married when I was twenty-one, and divorced my husband when I was forty because he wanted to live with his gay lover. Two years later I moved from Utah to Virginia to go to graduate school. The last eight years of my first marriage was the subject of the creative writing thesis I wrote for my Master of Fine Arts degree, a thesis that became the basis, twenty-five years later, for my soon-to-be-published memoir.
Personal experience has turned out to be the underlying successful factor in my writing. As well as my age. I can see life as a whole and my life more clearly at age seventy than I could even ten years ago. “Emotion recollected in tranquility,” as the poet Wordsworth said. In graduate school, I thought I was “tranquil” enough to write about my past--but I wasn’t! But I tried, and am so glad I decided to take my not-so-well-written thesis and try to turn it into a book worth someone’s time to read.
It’s been a long journey, but a fun one. I never dreamed when I typed my stories on typewriters the current generation sees only in photographs that one day I would be composing on a computer that doesn’t require making corrections on multiple copies. And that I would be making friends worldwide through blogging. Thank you, all of you, for making my writing journey so enjoyable.
I have learned that all things are possible for those who never give up on their dream. It might not come true the way you imagined, but that’s okay. What would life be without the surprises, even the not-so-good ones!
The biggest surprise was a small press accepting my manuscript. WiDo Publishing. It was the only press that I felt was a “fit” for my book. Happily, they accepted it, and worked with me for months on the editing. It needed good editors! I see now that I could have self-published, but I’m glad I didn’t have to. But either way, these days the author needs to do a lot of self-promoting. It’s a new publishing world out there. My memoir In the Mirror will be released shortly.
However, powerful emotions pull Larry away from his family, and eight years later their marriage ends. As a single parent, Ann is now faced with four grieving children who don’t want to leave their father and their home in Utah Valley. But Ann needs to start a new life in a new place.
In the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Ann at last makes peace with the past.
ISBN (print): 978-0-9830238-5-2
ISBN (ebook): 978-0-9830238-6-9
You can visit Ann at her blog Long Journey Home.
THE PRIZE TODAY:
Ann is happy to offer a critique for any one, any two, or all three of these: a pitch, a synopsis, ideas for memoirs. Please tell us in the comments if you want to take up Ann's kind offer.
AND THE GRAND PRIZE:
For those who have attended every party, your name goes into the draw to win: Typo book bag, Aussie Author Di Morrissy's The Last Mile Home, Fast Fiction magazine, filled with short stories from writers all over the world (next edition contains one of mine, woo hoo!), Typo desk calendar, Enchantez writer's notebook and a koala bookmark.
I hope the prize spurs you on to go back and read the previous posts.
Alex J Cavanaugh
Helen M Hunt
Now, where do I go from here? Any suggestions?