Personal memories and fiction

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Literary musings

By D.G. Torrens

Personal memories in my writing has featured a great deal. My first book, Amelia’s Story, was filled with personal memories as it was my autobiography.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

However, transferring those memories to the page is not quite as easy as you would think. Accuracy is key.

If you are writing a true story, it is imperative you can back up what you are writing about. For example, documentation, permissions from corporate, local and governing bodies, depending on what your story is about. It may be your story, but researching your past events for accuracy is important.

I personally revisited all the places from my past that feature in my book. This was to refresh those memories that I would be writing about. It really made a huge difference as it reminded me of things that I had long forgotten about.

This can have its pitfalls as memories forgotten are not always good memories. I had to prepare myself for an emotional roller coaster of a ride.

Personal memories have also featured in my fictional novels, too. When one of my characters is going through an emotional time in their life, I often draw from a personal memory that will make me feel the emotions my character is going through so that I can write her/his emotions with accuracy, thus making my readers feel the character’s emotions also.

I guess, it is a bit like when an actor methods acts for a part in a movie. They get into character for the part. I do something similar for my writing.

D.G. Torrens

is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling trilogy, Amelia’s Story #1, Amelia’s Destiny #2 and Amelia The Mother #3. This is an emotion-charged true story that the author wrote for her daughter.

D.G is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

D.G is a prolific writer and in 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

She currently has 15 published titles, and plans to release three more before the end of the year.

Visit her:

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Memory musings: The stories of strangers

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I meet them. I don’t know them. But I listen to them. Their words have kept me in business.

By Caleb Pirtle III

He was a man growing old before his time and facing death.

It was inevitable, and Harold knew it.

I sat with him on death row in the Texas prison.

He couldn’t remember the crime.

It was murder.

He couldn’t remember the time.

It was night.

And he figured he was guilty.

Harold was a stranger.

He intrigued me.

So I wrote about him.

I met Porter Waggoner on a tour bus heading south.

Mornings were always the same.

Porter Waggoner at the Grand Ol’ Opry in 1999. From Wikimedia.

Nights were always in a different town.

He and his band had already made over two hundred one-night stands for the year, and the miles were still rolling past him.

He wrote songs.

He sang songs.

He was addicted to the spotlight.

He loved to night fish when he was home.

He was on the lake at the end of a long tour.

He had drifted off to sleep.

A boat came around the bend, and the spotlight hit him in the face.

Porter grinned.

“I woke up singing “Carroll County Accident,” he said.

He was a stranger.

He fascinated me.

So I wrote about him.

The old man had lived the blues.

He was blind.

He didn’t have a lot of money.

He sang for tips.

He sang in a little bar at the end of a dead-end Mississippi road.

He had been in love, he said.

She had loved another.

And every night he sang about them.

Lost loves.

Shots in the night.

Unmarked graves.

What did he know about their deaths?

I asked him.

He winked.

He kept right on singing.

The blind blues singer was a stranger.

His story snared me.

So I wrote about him.

He ran a late-hours Fort Worth nightclub he called The Cellar.

Live music.

Loud music.

Waitresses floating from table to table in their underwear.

Bring your own bottle.

Bring as much as you want.

Pat Kirkwood supplied the ice and the cokes and the tonic.

Pay a cover charge.

Drink all night.

Kirkwood didn’t need advertising.

He simply called the law.

Women are taking their clothes off, he said.

Then he called the newspaper.

Police are raiding me at midnight he said.

The next morning, his name and photograph were plastered all over the front page.

Can’t get page one advertising?

Pat Kirkwood did.

Other nightclubs sold booze.

Kirkwood sold sin.

And he was good at it.

But he would never forget the night the Secret Service agents sat all night and drank all night, and by one o’clock the next day, a President lay dead in a trauma room.

Pat Kirkwood was a stranger.

But he was always a person of interest.

So I wrote about him.

And that’s the reason I wrote my Memoir of Sorts.

The book’s not about me.

I’m just the man with the notepad and the nineteen-cent ballpoint pen.

But I talk to strangers.

And every stranger has a different story.

Caleb Pirtle III published his Memoir of Sorts in 2017. Find it Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

He is the author of more than 65 published books, including the new noir suspense thrillers, Golgotha Connection, Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies and Night Side of Dark. His other novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

He has written such award winners as “XIT: The American Cowboy,” “Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season,” “The Grandest Day,” “Echoes from Forgotten Streets,” and “Spirit of a Winner.” His nonfiction works include Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk and No Experience Required.

Caleb earned a journalism degree from The University of Texas and became the first student at the university to win the national William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. As a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he received both the Texas Headliner’s and Associated Press Awards.

He served as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and his travel writing was given the National Discover America Award three times. For more than two decades, Pirtle was editorial director for a custom publishing company in Dallas.

He has also written teleplays for network television.

Find more about Caleb at his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Memory and dialog

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Monday musing

By Scott Bury

Photo by Max Goncharov on Unsplash

How does memory factor into my writing? Thinking about this brought me to one of my earliest memories: July 31, 1965. 

On that warm, sunny Winnipeg summer day, I was standing on the front steps of my parents’ home. My father was sitting on the top step in front of me, and around me were some other kids from the neighbourhood.

I cannot remember what the conversation was about, but I can remember that at one point, I said, “today is the first day of August.” I remember feeling that I was kind of going out on a limb; I remember not being sure that what I said was true.

“Not quite,” my father said. “Tomorrow is August first.”

And I can remember, strangely enough, feeling pretty good about that—about being close to knowing the date, because I was sure that none of the other four- and five-year olds there had any clue what the date was. I can remember at least one of them being surprised that I was as close as I was. After all, even a grown-up could err on the date by one day, right?

I was four at the time (now you know my age). There were no cell phones to check the date and time on. Phones then were heavy, clunky black things tethered to the wall by stout wires, or screwed to it in the kitchen. Actually, every family I knew had only one phone.

We also all had black-and-white television sets—huge wooden crates with a screen maybe a foot across. I remember how my parents and I used to fiddle with the rabbit-ear antennas on top, or the fine-tuning dial around the channel-changing dial beside the screen to try to clear up the image on the screen.

I remember the white stucco house with the blue wooden trim that we lived in. The front yard seemed as wide as a park, and I remember the oak tree as immense, with a canopy that gave enough shade for family picnics.

I don’t know whether this memory directly informs my writing. But I have always loved blue-and-white houses, and I was immediately taken with Cycladean architecture when I saw pictures of it during high school. 

Unsplash

But there is one lesson I think we can draw from this. Think of your own favourite memories. They’re probably not about big, dramatic events. They’re probably of quieter moments with your families, when you’re not doing anything in particular. No one says anything life-changing.

If there is something about this memory that has any effect in my writing, it’s that. People don’t usually speak in full sentences, and what they say does not seem memorable, at first. And yet, that’s what we do remember. At least, I do. 

This is where I find a lot of fiction writers go wrong. They try to pack so much into dialogue that it sounds false. Listen to some of the everyday conversations around you. People almost never speak in full sentences, they make mistakes all the time, they start sentences, change their mind part-way through, backtrack part way and substitute words. And if you ever tried to re-create the funniest, most enjoyable, laughter-filled conversation you ever had on paper, it probably came out as gibberish. This is why most politicians sound false: they’ve prepared what they say.

I know that stumbling speech with little import makes for bad reading. But still, I remember those quiet times and those gentle conversations, and to me, they’re the most real memories I have.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

Since then, he has published mysteries, thrillers and a three-volume biography, the Eastern Front triology: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War, the true story of a Canadian-born man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Learn more about Scott from his:

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A special family member gets into a book

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Monday musings

By Toby Neal

Memory can be a powerful source of writing inspiration…

Her eyes are milky now, this old dog of ours, and her muzzle adrift in silver. She gets up in the mornings from her bed and walks like I feel some days, stiff and sorry that dawn has stolen comfort. She has never been a dog to make assumptions, boldly thrust her nose into my hand and demand petting like my young dog Liko, with his bold stares and entitlement. No, she’s respectful, and keeps her eyes down, and merely follows me from room to room to make sure I’m safe and okay. If I’m sad she will sense it, and come close, and sit with me, and it’s powerful because I know it costs her something.

She came to us fifteen years ago when the kids were young, a tiny pup the kids discovered on Kauai while we were camping.  A hippie girl had the litter in her tent, and the pups were adorable even if the hygiene wasn’t.

We’d had a trail of failed dogs thus far: the Dalmatian that was too hyper, the beagle mix that bit, and Shepherd that knocked the kids over and tracked dirt everywhere. We’d always had to give them away with accompanying heartache and tears, so I said no. And no again the next day. And finally, as the begging reached a crescendo, yes.

Nalu, named because of wave shapes in the markings on her cheeks, was so little that we carried her home to Maui in my purse.

Nalu protecting her people on a beach walk.

She patrols the grounds every day to protect the family, even now with her limp, and the hunch in her back since she fought a pit bull who dared to come too close to our home, and was shaken like a chew toy for her courage.

Nalu has always been a very big dog, for a Chihuahua.

Nalu loves going to bed, because we give the dogs a treat, and pets too, and she can lie down with that sigh she gives at the end of the day, knowing her work guarding us and keeping us company is done.

And Nalu, passed away now, was the model for Keiki, the fiercely loving and loyal Rottweiler who’s been Sergeant Lei Teixeira’s companion in 12 USA Today award-winning books, the Paradise Crime Mysteries. She will live forever, now.

See the books at https://tobyneal.net/ and meet Keiki yourself!

And if you like true stories, you might enjoy my memoir, Freckled. It’s a whole lot of memories strung together.

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Monday musings: The inspiration of memory

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By David C. Cassidy

Do memories inspire my writing?

Human Chess at the World Bodypainting Festival in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Carinthia, Austria.
Photo by JIP – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41470182

In a word, yes. I have always had a vivid imagination, one that’s immensely visual, and that shines through in all of my stories. But at another level, recollections of past events—whether they happened to me or to others—have always inspired my writing in one way or another.

In Fosgate’s Game, a creepy tale of greed, dark magic, and murder, I pit two well-to-do Englishmen in a battle of wits over something as innocuous as a game of chess. It’s not that simple, of course, as they’re playing with dark forces that neither truly comprehends. The story was actually inspired by a memory of me playing chess as a young boy against one of my brothers. During a rather lengthy turn where he was taking his sweet time to make a move, my mind began to drift, and I began to wonder what might happen if the chessmen were somehow alive.

The Dark is an atmospheric supernatural thriller where a young child has lost his father in a dreadful accident, and in his desperation, is seduced by an ever-present evil that draws him into another realm—a wondrous place that includes his father. In my younger days, I used to enjoy tobogganing down this rather treacherous sledding hill in a park, and on one particularly fast run, I nearly spilled into an ice-cold creek at the bottom. I was this close to disaster, barely stopping myself in time. It was getting rather dark, and when I picked up my sled and turned to head back up the hill to go home, I suddenly froze, staring up at this towering—and rather ominous—oak tree. It just startled me, and to this day, I don’t know why. It was just one of those eerie moments when one gets a case of the chills for no obvious reason. Little did I know then that that hill and that very tree would be the basis for an award-winning novel.

A short story of mine, Never Too Late, was inspired by a deeply painful personal event. The story is a cautionary tale about regret—how we all, at one time or another, figure we have all the time in the world—only to learn the agonizing truth when the unexpected happens. Years ago, my mother passed away quite suddenly, and I was devastated. I never spent nearly enough time with my parents, always figuring there was plenty of time for that. You know, I’ll seem them soon. I’ll make time later. Well, I was wrong. It was the hardest lesson I ever learned.

Velvet Rain, a supernatural thriller with elements of time-travel and alternate realities, was not so much inspired by memories or personal events. And yet, a lot of the characters in the book, including the main character, Kain Richards, possess those human frailties and personal characteristics of people I’ve known—including family. One character, Al Hembruff, a no-nonsense farmer in 1960s Iowa, at one point refers to his daughter, Lynn, as “honey-child”. My father, God rest his soul, used to call his own daughters the very same. I hadn’t heard him say it in years, but as I was writing Velvet Rain, the memory came back, and it just seemed to work in the moment.

In all honesty, I don’t consciously write out of memory—I write out of inspiration and imagination—but I certainly don’t discount the subconscious when it strikes. If the shoe fits, I wear it.

David C. Cassidy

The award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Get to know David at his:

And follow him on Twitter @DavidCCassidy.

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Fishnet shirts and memory

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Monday musings
By DelSheree Gladden

BestSelling Reads authors are exploring the intersections between their own personal memories and their writing. This week, the author of the Eliza Carlisle, Girl’s Handbook and Date Shark series muses about the weird things she has seen that inspired her.

One of the ways memory affects my writing is all the little details that get stored away in my brain over the years. Sometimes, I even make notes on my phone about odd or funny or unusual things I see or hear. Most of them just sit there and I forget about them, but more often than you might think, these little tidbits provide some inspiration for part of a story.

This happens most when I’m trying to develop or flesh out characters. I meet a lot of interesting people through work. They tell me about their lives, their jobs, and the crazy things that happen to them. A friend once told me that she was a building manager and had to clean up an apartment after a resident was murdered. That helped to inspire a scene in the first Eliza Carlisle Mystery book, Trouble Magnet, where Eliza’s best friend and building manager, Sonya, is left responsible cleaning up after a murder and isn’t very happy about it.

There are also cases where a random experience inspires something bigger than a scene or a character trait. A lecture from a high school history lessen about how Aztec human sacrifices of children were largely incorrect popped back into my head years later and got me interested in the culture and mythology of the Aztecs … which led to my first novel, Escaping Fate, where Arrabella must uncover the truth of her family’s curse before she is set to die on her sixteenth birthday.

My favorite things to take note of throughout the day, are instances that make me stop and realize how unique people are. For example, I was meeting a friend at the theater last week and got out of my car just as a large Native American man slowly drove by in a sporty little sedan with his windows rolled down, blasting Sinatra. Everything about that experience would have been completely average if he’d been playing rap or even country music. Sinatra? However this guy was introduced to Sinatra, he loved it enough to share it with everyone else in the mall parking lot. I’m sure there’s a story behind his music choice. I won’t ever know what it was, but I can certainly create one that will interest my readers!

Writing fiction always holds the challenge of creating a believable world and characters without making it so realistic that it becomes mundane. Rather than writing a scene about a character walking across a parking lot, lost in her thoughts about whatever is about to happen, interrupt her musings with an odd encounter that will take her thoughts in a different direction, or cause her to notice something important. Storing away little goofy memories helps me bring uniqueness, as well as real life, into my writing.

Someday, a female character wearing a black fishnet shirt (completely see-through), with two sparkly shells sewn on in just the right place to keep her decent in public, is going to make an appearance in one of my books. So keep an eye out for her.

DelSheree Gladden,

USA Today Bestselling Young Adult and Romance Author, loves books—reading them and writing them.

Fiction makes it possible to survive reality.

Writing is her escape, and she has escaped to Aztec temples in the Escaping Fate Series, into Native American myths in the Twin Souls Saga, to a dystopian reality in The Destroyer Trilogy, into invisibility in The Aerling Series, into wicked desires in the Someone Wicked This Way Comes Series, into wacky mysteries in the Eliza Carlisle Mystery Series, and into sweet romances in The Date Shark Series and the Handbook Series.

DelSheree lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist.

Get to know DelSheree better on:

And follow her on Twitter @Delsheree.

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