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 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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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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Monday musings: The difference between imagination and memory

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Photo: Photo by Vidar Kristiansen on Unsplash

What’s the difference between the way a writer imagines a realistic scene, and the way a reader experiences something? Could it be similar to the difference between the way we watch a motion picture about, say, a day at the lake, and the way we remember a day at the lake?

I sometimes edit novels for other writers, looking for ways to improve the story and the way it’s told, without changing the author’s voice.

I have noticed I often change or suggest a change to a particular kind of writing: excessive description of a sequence of small actions. They’re little things that happen in a story, but that the reader doesn’t need to read. And it makes me think about the difference between the way we remember and the way we imagine.

I’ll make up an example here:

She pulled the lever and opened the car door. She stepped onto the dirt driveway in front of the summer cabin, and walked past the old porch in front. She passed the little cedar trees that had never grown very high, past the big old maple and down to the wooden dock. She walked to the end, and sat down on the boards. She removed her sandals and dipped her bare feet into the lake, only to jerk them out—cold!

It’s way too wordy. Sure, it describes what happened. It takes the reader through all the action. But it doesn’t actually bring the reader into the setting. And do we really need to read every single action?

When I think back to summer days at the lake, I don’t really think of long sequences. My memories are things like seeing my grandfather standing in his wooden boat, tinkering with something in his hands as the boat bobbed gently on the water. Or the backs of my father and grandfather, looking up at the big tin barrel that collected rainwater as the wind rippled the backs of their shirts. Or sitting on a dull, cloudy afternoon on a big rock over the shore, my uncle beside me, holding a toy fishing rod in my hand.

Which brings me to the original question: what’s the difference between imagination and memory?

It’s an important question, as things like “false memory syndrome” have a bearing on criminal cases. And maybe it’s part of the profound influence of motion pictures on our whole society.

Think about the passage above. It’s not from any particular book, but it’s typical of what I tend to tell a writer to re-write. And it’s kind of cinematic. It might be the way a screenwriter would provide instructions to a cinematographer. It has all the action, something that an actor and a camera operator could follow.

This is how I remember arriving at my grandfather’s summer cottage.

Thin fir boles and low-hanging evergreen branches framed the back of the cottage. The tires crunched softly over the dirt and forest litter before the car bounced to a stop. I popped out of the back seat—no thought of seat belts then—to be greeted by the scent of forest and water and the outhouse tucked behind a thin screen of bushes.

I ran around the log cabin, reaching out to touch the structure supporting the tin barrel that collected rainwater. The lake gleamed far below the cabin, separated by a steep slope crowded with dark evergreens and lighter deciduous bushes. A bright leopard frog leaped away, into the bushes as my sneaker-clad feet made soft drumbeats on the beaten ground of the path down to the dock.

See? Flashes, like the “Live” setting on photos on my iPhone these days. Not a long cinematic sequence.

What do you think? Are your memories more like cinematic sequences, or short live photographs?

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Monday Musings: The importance of interacting with readers

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By DelSheree Gladden

Interacting with readers is one of my favorites things about being an author. Frankly, it’s one of the things I’ve missed most over the last year. Last December, I went back to work full-time, which left little time for writing or staying up to date on social media. Recently, I left that full time job and am focusing on writing while I look for a new job. I’m also trying to catch up on everything I let slide for the last year.

Thankfully, one particular reader I’ve know for several years now, has been staying more on top of things than I have. A few weeks back, Stacey messaged me out of the blue and said she’d just been to her local library to tell the librarian about my books. As it happens, there were a few teens standing nearby and commented that the books actually sounded like something they might read. The librarian was apparently intrigued and agreed to look me up online. Fast forward a week or two and Stacey got back in contact saying the librarian was interested in “Trouble Magnet” and “Invisible,” and would I be willing to donate copies? Of course I was, so after figuring out how to order copies from the KDP print platform I just switched all my books over to, copies were on their way.

Now, I’m not telling you this just to brag about having an awesome reader like Stacey, even though it’s true and I’m super grateful for her enthusiasm and willingness to share my work. I bring this up because I’ve been so far from having any interest or motivation to write lately that I wasn’t even trying to keep up with readers or do any kind of real marketing. Stacey’s message was a reminder that I needed to get busy. It was motivation that just because my head was not in a writing space at all, my readers were still interested and wanted to engage.

Stacey’s message got me back to thinking about books and my readers and what projects I had left languishing on my computer for so long. Authors often joke about the readers who constantly want updates or want to message all day when they’re trying to get some writing done, but the truth is that these are the exact things that keep us going and remind us that the challenges of writing are worth it and what we do really does mean something to others. I’m so grateful I still have readers who are interested in my books after basically disappearing for a year. They haven’t given up on me, and I’m not going to give up on them either. It may take a little while for me to get back into the swing of writing and have something new for them to read, but the motivation is back.

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at
And find her on social media

 

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