Today, three (3) years ago my dream was fast approaching to become a reality; no longer did I have a manuscript, now I had a book (a proof copy of the book) that I could hold in my hand. I remember going to the mailbox and taking the package out of the mailbox, walking back into the house, my hands shaking, afraid to open it, and my heart pounding in my chest. John said, “Aren’t you going to open it, Therese?” It was surreal holding Watching Their Dance and reading the words I had labored over for so many years. Amazon http://amazon.com/author/theresecrutchermarin
For seven years, I’d traveled on an unfamiliar road that excited me; learning and improving my writing skills, finding camaraderie/support in fellow writers at Gold Country Writers Club and Sacramento Suburban Writing Club, and joining a critique group for three (3) years; I had to put on my tough skin to listen to their comments.
In 2015, after attending the San Francisco Writer Conference for the second time, I was ready to work with an editor to teach me techniques to improve my work. Editor, Pam Feinsilber, taught me so much during those two years. Many folks who have read the book have shared that they couldn’t put it down.
I offer this blog to my fellow writers. If you have heard the phrase, “Show Not Tell” your story, then you are on the right track. This phrase suggests writers create scenes that allow readers to visualize what is occurring in the story. Describe to the reader in detail the room, the colors, the smells, the weather, the emotions of the people involved, etc.
When Pam and I were working to improve my manuscript, she was my editor, enhancing scenes was a priority so the reader felt like they were a fly on the wall watching the story unfolded. 3 Ways to Show, Not Tell Your Story
Therese will be selling her memoir/nonfiction book, Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying into a Family At Risk for Huntington’s, at HDSA San Francisco Team Hope Walk on October 13. The book is available on her author website https://www.theresecrutchermarin.com & on Amazon,B&N, & in Kindle, Kobo,Nook, iBooks format. 100% of the profit from the book is donated to HDSA.
Therese and John donated $9,015.00 to Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) which was the profit from her book since she published in April 2017.
Authors hate editing. We hate it more than being interrupted or staring at the wall, frozen and unable to type a word. It is, unfortunately, the most important thing we do, once the story is down on paper. It’s time-consuming and hard and creates more work, but essential to creating a polished manuscript.
Editing needs to be done in four stages.
SPELL AND GRAMMAR CHECK-Start slow. Drink coffee. Use the spell check and grammar available through your document writing software.
EDITING SOFTWARE-Use a good software program for the second pass–preferably one that is not biased concerning Microsoft or Apple. There are editing programs on the web.
READ ALOUD-Phase three has you in the driver’s seat once again. You must read it to yourself; page by page, and line by line. If you can do so aloud, all the better.
HIRE AN EDITOR-Put another set of eyes on the manuscript. Yours are too used to your writing, too familiar with the story and will not catch the simplest of things such as a backward quotation mark.
Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying into a Family At Risk for Huntington’s, a nonfiction/memoir, can be purchased on Therese’s author website Amazon B&N & Kindle,Kobo,Nook,and iBooks format. 100% of the proceeds from the book is being donated to Huntington’s disease organizations around the world.
Since I have been through the process (fire) of publishing a book, I want to reach out to writers working on a manuscript, and encourage them to push through the writers block, accept the enormous amount of time it will take you to work with an editor to make your manuscript the best it can be, and the gigantic amount of time it will take you to research, submit and wait to hear, if you ever do, from the publishers, small presses, and literary agents who received your submission. (If you choose to go the traditional route)
Over the seven years of writing and producing a book, I always reminded myself, or my hubby did, “Therese, you have never done this before, so you must be patient and learn along the way”.
When I finally held the finished product, book, in my hands, I was filled with pride, and, the joy of success was sweet. And, I was pleased that I had produced something that will inspire readers and that a little piece of me will remain beyond my lifetime.
Therese’s memoir/nonfiction book, Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying into a Family At Risk for Huntington’s, is available on her author website: https://www.theresecrutchermarin.com & on Amazon,B&N, & in Kindle,Kobo,Nook, iBooks file. 100% of the proceeds from the book is being donated to Huntington’s organizations around the world.
We all have dreams and the dream for my book, Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying into a Family At Riskfor Huntington’s is to accomplish four very important goals.
The first goal was to write John and my story to show the world what it’s like to live in the shadow of Huntington’s disease for 38 years and the conscious choices we made to fully live our lives everyday. http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/mindfulness-tips/
The second goal was to honor and create a legacy for my three sisters-in-law, my friends, Lora, Marcia and Cindy, who were struck down at an early age by Huntington’s disease. They were amazing, kind, brave women who loved me unconditionally.
The third goal was to use the book as a tool to heighten awareness of Huntington’s disease around the world. Amazon, with their 11 websites allows me to promote my book across the globe.
I’m just thrilled with the review I received from Kirkus on my book, Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying into a Family At Risk for Huntington’s. It’s hard to explain the feelings I have, because I have so many. This review validates my writing skills, storytelling skills, and gives me so much satisfaction and finally justifies all the hours I spent writing my story. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/unknown/watching-their-dance/
Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say:
A debut memoir focuses on a family wrestling with the genetic legacy of Huntington’s disease.
Crutcher-Marin met her future husband in 1976 while they both attended junior college in California—it took no time for her to be captivated by him. Then, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, John’s three sisters called a meeting and revealed that while visiting an aunt they discovered the family was plagued by Huntington’s disease, a debilitating neurological disorder. John’s mother, Phyllis, and three of her siblings—four out of six overall—suffered from it. The odds that John would eventually come down with it were about 1 in 2, and there was neither a test to definitively diagnose it nor a cure to combat it. When the author met John he was 21 years old, and, generally, the symptoms start to appear between the ages of 30 and 45. Overwhelmed by the prospect that such uncertainty would forever haunt their lives, Crutcher-Marin reluctantly left John, a move encouraged by her own family. She even briefly dated someone else. But she couldn’t bear the separation and eventually returned to his embrace; they wed in 1980 and had a child. But the threat continued to loom over them like a storm cloud, and two of John’s siblings did eventually grapple with, and die from, the terrible affliction. This is a story more about the power of hope than the wages of Huntington’s—a pre-symptomatic test for the disease eventually hit the market, but John refused to take it. As he explained: “I’d rather live my life with the hope I don’t have the mutated gene than find out I do.” Crutcher-Marin writes affectingly about the way her marriage was actually fortified by its precariousness—she learned to love more deeply in the shadow of her husband’s mortality. She also tenderly portrays the plight of his sisters—beleaguered not only by the deadly genetic inheritance, but also difficult childhoods stained by loneliness and abandonment. This is a rare treat—a true story that is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking.
A poignant remembrance of a love forged in crisis.
Kirkus Reviews. … (or Kirkus Media) is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus (1893–1980). The magazine is headquartered in New York City.
Avoid adverbs.“The adverb is not your friend”, says Stephen King. An adverb adds to a verb. In other words, an adverb describes, modifies or provides more information about a verb in a sentence. So, if you said “I am going to quickly run to the store,” the adverb in that sentence (quickly) would be modifying the verb run.
The most important piece of advice I received when I started attending writers groups and listening to seasoned writers, was to “show, not tell” your story. This means a writer should portray their characters in situations and conversations that show their emotions or thought instead of telling the readers what is happening.
Unfortunately, before I heard about this style of writing, I’d written much of my story. So, I started over and I found that writing my story where I showed my characters emotions or showed their body language, etc. made writing much more fun. I guess because I’m an emotional person, showing emotion either in words or by a characters action was easy for me. It also allows the reader to become emotionally involved in the story and more likely to become vested in the characters and their outcome.
In 2008, after Cindy died from complications of Huntington’s disease, the third Marin sister stolen from our family, grief and sadness weighed heavily on my heart. The therapist I’d been seeing for years suggested writing my story as a way to heal. She said, “research shows that writing about life’s stresses helps us heal from both physical and emotional conditions”.
In 2010, I began writing and soon discovered that writing my story was the first time I could truly express my unbridled feelings; joy, pain, happiness, rage, frustration, sadness and grief. Though there were many times when my heartache was so intense, I had to stop writing and put the computer away. But then something wonderful happened. I remembered what Lora, Marcia and Cindy had endured and the fortitude I had witnessed in each of them for years and their fight empowered and motivated me to continue writing and to write honestly. Acknowledging what happened in my life, sharing my story, and being able to honor my three sisters-in-law, my friends, was very liberating.
And then last year, I found for the the first time I could speak about Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, A Genetic Disease and Marrying into a Family At Risk for Huntington’s without tearing up.
After seven years of writing and rewriting, I have healed and it is now time share my story with the world.
Below are two articles on how to heal through writing:
Stephen King has written at least 65 books as of 2014, including 55 novels under his own name and seven novels under the pen name Richard Bachman. King’s work includes six nonfiction books and about 200 short stories.
I’m going to share my writing experiences to each rule as I go through Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writing.
Last week I talked about the 1st Rule.“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” An editor can help you with this. When I gave my manuscript to my editor, the word count was 120,000, too many words for a new author. She helped me cut out what wasn’t pertinent to the story and lowered the word count to 85,400, which is perfect for a first time author.
The 2nd Rule is Don’t use passive voice.“Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
I wrote Watching Their Dance in an active voice. But it’s still is in past tense. Example of an active voice , “I was in love with John Marin.” Example of a passive voice, “John Marin was loved by me.”
In 2008, my last sister-in-law, Cindy, died of Huntington’s disease and John’s father died of cancer, a month apart from each other. John and I were reeling from the loss of his entire immediate family, having stared at the face of Huntington’s for 25 years. John retired in 2009 and we took trips in our 5th wheel to recover from the many losses we had experienced.
That year, I began contemplating writing a book about his sisters, Lora, Marcia, Cindy, my friends, as a way to honor them. My job at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital was outreach and marketing, so over 17 years I’d written newspaper articles, designed pamphlets, newsletters, newspaper ads, etc., but I’d never written a book.
The first decision I was confronted with was whether the book would be a fictional story or a narrative non-fiction. I chose a memoir because I felt the world should hear my powerful story.
This first post about writing a book starts with just that………start writing. Find a place to write that is comfortable, where you can dream, be creative, think, concentrate and begin writing your story. That is really the first step, “Just do it”, as Nike says.