37. Non-Fiction Bushel Basket

06/30/2021

The Rubery International Book Awards early results were in my mailbox today. I didn’t make the shortlist. Disappointed of course, and looking at the books that did , I discovered that my literary memoir had been thrown into the only category available—non-fiction, alongside the chosen ones which were Political Histories and cookbooks. (I’m sorry, but this is just so wrong.)

Books like mine (and possibly yours) that read like novels, with vivid descriptions, complex narratives, mystifying sub-plots, and small gems of hard-learned personal wisdom, are not like histories and cookbooks. This is not “apples and oranges,” it’s more like apples and battleships.

Why don’t Indy-pub and self-pub book contests (and other powers-that-publish) have a creative nonfiction category? How did Annie Dillard’s unique breaktrhough book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Pulitzer Prize, listed as General Nonfiction) ever get discovered? Did she know somebody? It was 1974. There were no bogs, and no facebook.

The professional advice blogs all say we’ve got to build a Platform and be already well-known before we can expect to be discovered. But I’m not 20-something or even 40 -something. I don’t have enough time  to blog myself famous first. If you too believe that there is likely a lot of good (or very good, or brilliant) writing out here that doesn’t have a category of its own, and deserves one, say Amen.


Victory Is My Name, Book One: The Burning Barrel
$15.95  PAPERBACK 978-0-9841730-9-9
$4.95 E-BOOK 978-0-9841730-4-4
Available Oct.1, 2020 from all online or brick & mortar bookstores.
See
More information:  Publisher’s Page & Sampler


30. To Tell The Truth

03/14/2021

In a few days I will be sending out the email book-launch announcement about my book, Victory Is My Name, a Memoir. The introduction says, “This  book will not be everybody’s cup of tea.”

Most of us who love to read do have a favorite flavor and brew. Maybe it’s romance novels with passion, sex, and reliable happy endings. Or Sci-Fi that transports the mind to another place with different possibilities than this messed-up world we’ve let build up around us here on planet Earth. Or detective mysteries– I do love British period-mysteries like Inspector Poirot, to just enjoy trying to guess who-done-it, knowing that the odd little man will always figure it out. For others, maybe it’s “Thrillers.” They sell like hotcakes. Or murder tales of Blood and guts galore. (No thanks, not my cup of tea.)

This book is not about any of that. Not a beach-book, not a tell-all, not entertainment. This book is a sincere attempt at literature, and this story, at risk of failing to win the approval of a great many readers, is about telling the truth. It’s about making mistakes, and doing the best you can with what you get. Life is not an even playing field. It’s not always fair. But my granny told me “Life never gives us more than we can bear” and because I was innocent enough to believe her, in my life ahead, I did do more than anyone else thought possible.

Even though it must be said that every novel carries some essential truths at its core, only memoir is obligated, expected, and pledged, to tell the truth. I don’t write fiction, not because I disapproved of it, I just have never needed to, because real life is always exploding with stories begging to be told and shared. We learn about life, in the long run, from life. Our own and each other’s, the true stories about real life that we as a social species are usually constrained not to tell.

But I say, Why not tell the truth? You can’t please everybody anyway. Trust me, I’ve tried, for the first 25 years of my life. It never worked. I did that, trying to hide and protect myself, so people wouldn’t hurt me. They hurt me anyway. (But that’s another story…)

If you read this book, you likely at times will be offended, annoyed, or fed up with this person, the storyteller/protagonists/myself, who was so stupid. You might cry real tears when she makes the same mistake you did. But you will likely be inspired some too, and heartened by her courage and her large and small victories that defied the odds, and prove in the end a truth beyond dispute: girls can.

In the last decade, memoir has become recognized as a serious literary genre that can take many different creative forms. Since books like Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club, authentic well-written memoirs are drawing a new crowd of readers, willing and even hungry for the truth.

I believe the world is ready for some truth. A different choice from the lies we are drowning in now. Many of us, like lemmings that have already gone off the cliff, are swimming in an ocean of confusion, longing for something we can believe in. Most of us have a disturbingly deep need to get our feet on the ground again, like back in the day, when ethics were clear, and we knew what was what.

But those days are gone. We need to start where we are, and meet each other honestly for the first time. That’s what Victory is about

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Of the trilogy, Victory Is My Name, Book 1: The Burning Barrel is now available from Internet or brick and mortar bookshops. The e-book is available at your favorite web booksellers. Search by author, Victoria Chames.

If you are interested in being a Beta Reader for the first draft of Victory Is My Name, Book Two: The West Bank, now in progress., please contact me through “Victory” at Darkhorse Press. Thank you.

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Victory Is My Name, a Memoir – Book One: The Burning Barrel
E-book available now, paperback available Sept.21, 2020
more information, http://www.darkhorsepress.com/sampler-victory.html


14. Dear Beta Readers

03/10/2017
First of all, thank you for participating in this pre-publication First Read, and helping me to write the best book I can. Some of you have known me at some time in my life. It’s going to be a task for you to step back, and read the stories as objectively as possible, as characters you’ve never met. That’s how you can help me in the writing process. As you read, or after a chapter, notice things like “what was my impression of this chapter? What stood out for me? What seems strong? Weak? Too fast or slow? Confusing? Unrealistic? Vivid?.” Was there enough of __(fill in the blank)__ or too much? Those are the things I need to know, things that if spotted and corrected will make the book better and clearer at saying what I want to say in a way that is understandable, not phony, not preachy, not fancy, and as genuinely as I can. Even though this is a memoir, in writing the stories, I found it helpful to think of the protagonist/ storyteller as simply a character in a book, not me. That changed both my perspective and my perception surprisingly. When I stepped back and looked at this funny little girl from a distance, as someone I was observing like a character in a movie, I saw things about her that I never could have seen when I was her.

So if you are one of my friends, don’t take Victoria with you into chapter one, dump her at the gate and leave her out of it. She is someone else, who came much later. The first time you meet Vickie, see her as somebody you have never met before. And in your comments and suggestions,  if you refer to this character as “the little girl” or “the storyteller.” That will help you keep a fresh unbiased perspective. For example, write “she was…” Not “you were…” Other than that, just enjoy a free book.

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Congratulations, you are now a Developmental Editor. Professional ones make big bucks for this. So please know how much I value and appreciate your participation in my creative process. This will surely bring you lovely Karma. I’ll be blogging more here about the beta reader experience, so y’all come back.

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Victory Is My Name, Book 1: The Burning Barrel is now available from Internet or brick and mortar bookshops. The e-book is available at your favorite web booksellers. Search by author, Victoria Chames. For a sampler, go to http://www.darkhorsepress.com/sampler-victory.html

If you’re interested in being a Beta Reader for the first draft of Victory Is My Name, Book Two: The West Bank, now in progress., please contact me through “victory @ darkhorsepress dot com  Thank you.


13. Beta Readers = Fresh Eyes

03/08/2017

A beta reader is someone who reads an unpublished manuscript at an early-draft stage and gives feedback to the writer. Beta readers provide a second perspective (or third, or fourth) which can often spot fixable flaws or shortfalls in the manuscript that the writer can’t see, because we are too close to it.

How does the process work? We have signed up with a terrific new site that takes care of the process for us, and just gives us your responses and views of the work. You can read as little or as much as you like, comment on some chapters or all, if you wish. Your impressions, your “take,” your point of view, is valuable.

On the web, the works and your comments are password-protected; they can’t be seen by search engines or any outside parties.

I’m seeking a few readers who might be:
(1) fellow-writers, but don’t know me personally, or
(2) non-writers, just people who love to read.

(3) people who know me, but are willing to take a chance on the real me…
(4) this will probably be cataloged as a “women’s” book, but its about overcoming the well-meant untruths we were all taught as children about gender-roles and responsibilities that hold us hostage in life.

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Of the trilogy, Victory Is My Name, Book 1: The Burning Barrel is now available from Internet or brick and mortar bookshops. The e-book is available at your favorite web booksellers. Search by author, Victoria Chames. Publishers’s sampler: http://www.darkhorsepress.com/sampler-victory.html

If you are interested in being a Beta Reader for the first draft of Victory Is My Name, Book Two: The West Bank, now in progress, please contact me through email:  “Victory” at Darkhorse Press dot com. Thank you.


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