How-To Memoir Stories


Dear Exceptional You,


I discovered recently that I enjoy reading memoirs. People’s stories fascinate me. Learning about the internal thoughts and feelings about anything that happens throughout a person’s life intrigues me. I am an aspiring writer and have compiled some great books others who want to write. These books are inspirational to me. Maybe they will be helpful to you too.


Does it seem to you that successful people have an extra dose of charisma or “je ne se quoi,” given to them, like a gift? Recently I sat at a table with writers who were all published. have the same dose of chutzpah, drive, ambition. Do you have it? Do I?


What do you think that power might be? Are successful people born with this? Does it come as a birthright, or is the success wrought straight from sitting in the chair, writing? I say it is this.


Someone told me I had an aura of bubbles surround me. Bubbles of Joy. I have something to share. I’m finding my voice. Maybe you will find yours too.


If you are searching for a book to help you create your book, I highly recommend:


On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft
Steven King

On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King


Steven King’s book is wonderfully told in his own voice. I loved hearing his inflections and imagining what he looked like when he was nearly killed and how the man casually sat by him with his dog. What a horrible accident. I think this is a must read, if you haven’t yet.

Good Naked Reflections on How to Write More,
Write Better, and Be Happier
Joni B. Cole

Good Naked by Joni B. Cole

I met Joni B. Cole at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. This is what I love about the workshop. We sat next to each other at the final evening’s banquet. Small talk happens, especially when one doesn’t know the other people sitting at the table. I ask what city you are from and if the participant is an Erma Virgin or not. Then I say…so…have you been published? Many people say yes. I get giddy. I think, by 2020, I will be published. When Joni told me what she wrote, I was even more impressed. Of course, I bought it as soon as I got home! I’m reading it now. I will be better prepared to keep on writing until I have a manuscript ready to go!


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Ann Lamott

bird by bird - Anne Lamott

Ann Lamott’s book was a discovery for me that seems every writer knows about. Somehow I missed that memo! I’m sorry it took so long to find it! Her writing is humorous, fascinating and gives fantastic instruction on writing memoir and what to expect from a publishing perspective. There are few books I will listen to over and over again. This is one.

The Elements of Style
William Strunk and E.B. White

The Elements of Style by Wm. Strunk Jr. & E.B. White

The writers William Strunk and E.B. White (who wrote Charlotte’s Web) has written this book that is like a Bible for writers. Once I was hired by The Cincinnati/Kentucky Enquirer, my editor recommended I read this book. I was mystified as to why they let me write every day for The Enquirer, but thrilled none the less. I did not have a degree in writing or journalism. The editor seemed to believe in me and my abilities. I ran right out and purchased the book and read it cover to cover. My dog-eared, highlighted, underlined and asterisk dented pages were never far from my hands as I worked to meet the deadline. Every writer needs this book.


  1. Hi Mary Lu. It’s been next to impossible to find a valid e-mail address for you. And, I even consider myself to be fairly well versed in Internet Searches. So I have decided to leave you a comment instead. First of all, let me compliment you on a wonderful blog. You are such a talented writer and I am still enjoying reading your work. I have written several stories myself, and as one writer to another I invite you to read some of my work. Some are technical in nature while others are personal. Two of the technical ones are textbooks that I had published through McGraw Hill. You can read about them at and I have also written about my technical life at On a more personal level, I have written about meeting my rock-n-roll heroes, Grand Funk Railroad, at I have written about my personal battle with Parkinson’s Disease at And I have a somewhat eclectic biography on my Facebook timeline at

    The reason I was searching for your e-mail address is that there is a question I wanted to ask you. And, no, it’s not *that* question–the one I asked you too many years ago. And if you feel up to it, give Judy a call. She would love to hear from you and chat about the good ol’ days. She has some interesting stories as well, she’s just not much of a writer.

    I hope to hear from you via e-mail.

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