Monday, January 23, 2012

Introducing Wyoming writer Abbie Johnson Taylor

            Visually impaired writer Abbie Johnson Taylor doesn’t let disability slow her down.  In addition to serving as president of WyoPoets and as primary caretaker of her wheelchair-bound husband, Abbie is the author of the 2007 novel We Shall Overcome.
            Her most recent publication is a book of poems, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.  Abbie is also currently secretary of Behind Our Eyes, and is a longtime member of Wyoming Writers Inc., as well as Sheridan Range Writers and Explorations in Creative Writing.  Abbie’s books are available at iUniverse, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.  Visit this inspiring writer at  http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com or http://abbiescorneroftheworld.blogspot.com/.
            Some excerpts from Abbie’s writing journey:
…I started writing a few years before I quit my day job. Several of my poems and stories were published in various journals and anthologies, and I wrote my first novel We Shall Overcome. When I married my husband Bill, he persuaded me to write full time.
            Some [of the poems] are from Bill’s point of view. One in particular is from the point of view of his computer which he has trouble using because of his lack of short-term memory and use of his left arm. Some poems provide a humorous outlook on being a family caregiver. Others offer a heartwarming look at our relationship. Poems in the second and third parts of the book cover childhood memories and reflect on other topics. The last part contains poems inspired by my fifteen years experience working with nursing home residents.
            If anything, I want others in my situation to know they’re not alone.  Caregivers should seek out…help and not feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
            Question for Abbie Johnson Taylor from actuallyalethea:  What is one thing about your writing that has not been revealed before?
            Answer:  My writing is as realistic as I can make it. I try not to write too far beyond what I know.
View Abbie's page on the Wyoming Authors Wiki: http://wiki.wyomingauthors.org/w/page/41360562/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor
View Alethea's page on the Wyoming Authors Wiki:
http://wiki.wyomingauthors.org/w/page/49036406/(Christine)%20Alethea%20Williams

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why Write a Memoir?

            Today is the first day of winter term’s “Write Your Life Story.”  This will be my second round of the autobiography class.  Some of the students have been attending for ten years!  Offered as an adjunct to family photo collections and the rising popularity of geneology sites, I suspect classes in writing your personal history are now held at most senior centers. 
            And I thought, since the class is a joint offering of the community college and the local senior center, that the class would be popular with AARP members.  It’s true, last term the majority of students were obviously over sixty-five.  But there were several middle aged women, and three who could not have seen their thirtieth birthday.  There was even one mother-daughter pair. 
            My writing niche is fiction, more particularly historical fiction.  So I had cause to wonder if maybe I was taking the wrong class.  But memoir writing has evolved.  Narrative is encouraged: I was astonished to find one young woman writing her grandmother’s stories complete with dialogue as if it were fiction. 
            Before taking the class, I expected that if your autobiography included your family’s history it was only to support the main character: you!  And it’s true most of us wrote about our own lives.  But autobiographical writing now includes family members’ memories.  In addition to the young woman writing her grandma’s history, we have grandmothers writing about their grandchildren’s lives and daughters co-authoring a single story with their mothers.
            With more than twenty members of the class, teacher Betty McCauley didn’t spend much time on how-to.  We had to hustle to get a few minutes each for reading aloud and then a couple of the leader’s comments on the writing.  There was a lot of polished writing in that class: several members have had their work accepted for publication or are self-published.  They speak at writing events and lead workshops as well as participating in poetry slams.  Betty has a really lovely website featuring her haiku, http://www.bettymccauley.com/, which I encourage you to visit.
            The students’ tales ran the gamut from sad to dry to humorous.  But the connecting thread that ran through all the various narratives was love: one man’s lifelong love of baseball; a daughter’s love for her memory-impaired mother; a grandmother’s loving patience for her autistic grandson.  I found that it’s love that makes these personal anecdotes interesting.  It’s love that keeps us writing memoir, remembered love for those gone now and love passed on to the ones for whom we write these memories. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Willow Vale Launched January 3

AUTHOR ALETHEA WILLIAMS EXPLORES LOVE, LOSS IN POST-WWI WYOMING
WILLOW VALE
OUT JANUARY 3

Former Wyoming resident and author Alethea Williams paints a vivid picture of living life and finding love in the turbulent West after the Great War. Readers will connect with the stubborn, hard-working protagonist, Francesca Sittoni, who is brought to America against her will by a husband she never loved. She soon finds herself alone—widowed, pregnant, and with a small daughter to support.
Terrified of being deported back to the impoverished country of her birth, Francesca answers an ad placed by Wyoming rancher and former doughboy Kent Reed. As their contracted year together passes, Francesca begins to ask if she is cook and housekeeper to Kent...or a secretly sought mail-order bride as the meddling neighbors insist?
Williams explores the powerful pull of love and endurance through an intriguing page-turner full of heartache, romance, and overcoming hardship. Set against the captivating frontier of Wyoming, Willow Vale is the saga of two strangers struggling with their own demons who ultimately manage to create a life together.
Readers will feel the passion and experience the resolve to succeed exhibited by Francesca, who finds her match in Kent Reed. Willow Vale is an excellent choice for anyone interested in historical fiction, romance, and the lure of the Wyoming frontier.
Willow Vale, published by Jargon Media LLC, is available for purchase on January 3, 2012 through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Amazon.com.  Direct sales through the publisher’s website at www.jargon-media.com/publishing will be entered in a drawing for a free signed copy.