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February 2013

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Writing About Writers - keys to an interesting short author bio

February 26, 2013

Authors are writers. So why are so many author bios that you find on the back of their book or on their website mundane? Why shouldn't bio blurbs be as intriguing or interesting as the words those authors craft on the pages of the book they've labored over?

Most writers have some interesting stories to tell about their lives. Not because they are different from other people; everyone has a story to tell. Rather it is because writers typically have eyes and ears for good stories. They know how to weave details of their experiences in a way that captures a reader's attention (and imagination).

I've written many short biographies for professionals. It is no easy task to put in 200 to 1000 words the key points of a life. Nevertheless, a short bio can be very helpful in letting the world know who you are and promoting your work. In Six Tips to Crafting a Better Author Bio: Write A Life Story Worth Reading!, Steve Piacente gives some excellent pointers on what to include in a short bio. His tips are directed towards authors, but I think some of his advice is applicable to anyone. In particular, I like the tips about being conversational and open as well as framing your story in the context of world events (where it makes sense - I mention more about this in my article, Your Memoir and The Larger World).

You can get more information on how a One Page Professional Biography can help you here.

Living Life Twice Slice of Life Post

February 19, 2013

I came across a beautifully written post about observing our lives and not taking anything for granted. I was reeled in first by the author's quoting a John Prine song (Angel From Montgomery) that features a sad line about people who go through life without appreciating each day and having nothing to share with a spouse when they get home. It's a sad and true reflection that happens all too often.

What really struck me about Alan Wright's slice of life post was how he encourages us to notice simple things of beauty. Sometimes they are quite striking (dolphins leaping in the ocean as they chase a school of fish), but other times simple, yet elegant, like the shadows of a tree dancing on a wall.

I've never visited the Living Life Twice website before, but I'm grateful my Google Alerts alerted me to it. I enjoyed his post and was delighted to discover Alan Wright is also a teacher. It is something we share in common along with a love for life story writing. Check out the posting - I think you'll enjoy it and I hope it gives you pause to consider the many incredible things happening all around you each and every day.

Celebrate the 88

February 14, 2013

She's traveled the world, from the pyramids to the Andes, and many other exotic locales. Many of her trips have been with her daughter (my cousin) who's quite well traveled, having lived for a while in South Africa and working stateside as a concierge at five star resorts.

Aunt Liz in a hot air balloon at age 80An adventurous spirit led Aunt Liz to take her first hot air balloon ride at the age of 80. She's well read, a history buff and a cat lover. My aunt is quite the amazing lady. She turned 88 years young today. That's right, on Valentine's Day.  

She's been slowed recently by pancreatic cancer. It's the same cancer that took my mom (her younger sister) almost 7 years ago. But she's got a good attitude about her life. She knows it has been full and worthwhile. I've tried to get her to sit for some interviews, but it hasn't happened. She's modest about her life and not that comfortable talking about it. But I know she' lived an amazing life and I am glad that she is nearby so we can visit.

Here's to celebrating the 88. It's got a nice ring to it. Happy Birthday, Auntie!

The Power of Each Second of Your Life

February 11, 2013

There are so many things happening in our lives. The really big ones impact us and we remember them. They can become turning points and life changing.

But what about the many seconds of our life that fly by? Each second contains something. Have you ever stopped to consider what a montage of these life occurrences would show you? Film artist and director Cesar Kuriyama has. He recorded and edited a project, One second every day, and it forced him to consider more closely his life and reevaluate how he approaches each day. It's fascinating and you can learn more as he shares about this project in his TED talk (

The Beatles Invade America

February 7, 2013

Beatles come to America February 7, 1964Today is the 49th anniversary of a British invasion that changed America and the world. The Beatles flew into JFK airport on February 7, 1964 (The Beatles Bible). There were over 5,000 fans waiting for them, mostly screaming young girls. Beatlemania came to the United States as the amazing Fab Four came to New York City. The Beatles were already wildly popular in England and they quickly conquered the American music charts and won the hearts of millions. At one time they had the top 5 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

The talent that converged in John, Paul, George and Ringo was exceptional. Also, the times were ripe for a musical and cultural revolution. If you are a child of the 60's then you probably grew up on the Beatles, along with numerous other rock groups. It's really an amazing part of our cultural history.

There are so many great Beatles songs - they've really stood the test of time. Here's a writing prompt for you: Write about your five favorite Beatles songs. What were they and why did you like each of them so much?

The Last Life Story Question

February 5, 2013

When interviewing someone for their life story it is important to ask good questions. Of course you will want to probe about childhood, career, adventures, the good times and the bad. But what do you ask at the end of the interview?

Fellow personal historian (and videographer) R. J. McHatton likes to ask how they want to be remembered. This is something others who work in life story work have also told me they like to do. I tend to agree. After some time spent reminiscing and talking about their life it is important, and can be quite revealing, to inquire what they believe has been their "mark", their legacy. It is best to save this to the end. If you ask it too soon you don't give the subject enough time to cover their important life events. And if you don't ask it at all you miss out on giving them the opportunity to reflect meaningfull on their life after the experience of traveling down memory lane.

Mr. McHatton tipped APH members to CBS news legend Bob Schieffer's take on how he'd like to be remembered. You can his quick take here.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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