Tag Archives: Ghostwriter

When You Publish a Book about Your Life Story, Enjoy Your Book Launch Party

So you’re envisioning what it might be like when you finish writing a book about your life story and someday guide it to publication. You’re anticipating the satisfaction, and the relief, from having seen your project through from start to finish. You’re feeling excited, and maybe a little bit nervous, about your family, friends, coworkers and yes, even strangers, reading your very personal accounts of your life experience. Maybe you’re even flashing to images of getting a surprise phone call from someone like…Oprah? Don’t forget to add to your visions a very important moment to plan for and bring to fruition: a fun and meaningful Book Launch Party!

I just had the pleasure of attending a Book Launch Party for John Thomas, one of my clients who happens to live in my city of Charlottesville, Virginia. John has just published his book “MY SAINTS ALIVE: Reflections on a Journey of Love, Loss and Life.” The book is a moving compilation of stories and experiences born from John’s rich, soulful journey of having two loves of his life who both died from breast cancer. The book is both a profound portrait of the possibilities of a grief journey after losing a loved one, and an engaging, living tribute to Susan and Barbara, his two wives, with whom he maintains an active spiritual relationship.  You can learn more about the book by visiting John’s website: http://www.mysaintsalive.com/.

I first began listening to John’s stories when he was a student in my Autobiographical Writing class at the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Fall 2009. After the eight-week class ended, I assisted him as a life book coach and adviser, helping him shape and organize the reflections that kept pouring from his soul to his pen at 3 or 4 in the morning. When John felt ready to share his accounts in a book, he made an unusual and thoughtful choice: he would order a small number of hardcover copies to give to family, friends, and others who had helped him on his jouney, as well as a softcover edition for retail forums.

When it came time for the Book Launch Party, John carefully wrapped each copy of the hardcover book and printed a personal inscription for each recipient. He invited not only family and friends but those who had assisted him in producing the book: myself, his graphic design specialist, his website developer, his therapeutic guide, his proofreader, his photographer. While I can’t begin to describe the care and attention John devoted to arranging his home for this event, I will provide one clue: because one wife loved pink roses and another loved white roses, we were greeted by white and pink everywhere, right down to the napkins! John spoke for a few minutes to share his appreciation to all the important people in his life and to reflect on his book, ending with a brief excerpt. Then it was time for the cake!

The event was memorable both for John and for those of us privileged to attend. Your own Book Launch Party is sure to be that for you as well. It doesn’t really matter where you have it, how you decorate the space, what food or drink you serve, or what words you speak. The idea is to provide an experience for you, and for those you care about, and to honor what it is you have done by capturing your life story or some part of it in your own book. In my own new book “YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK – AND IT’S TIME TO WRITE IT: An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story,” I name the Book Launch Party as a step just as important as any of the writing, organizing, or editing. It’s a time for others to say “Hooray!” to you, and for you to sit back and say to yourself, “Wow, I really did it.”

– Kevin Quirk, life-story ghostwriter, personal historian, editor, and author of “YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK – AND IT’S TIME TO WRITE IT! An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.” Member of the Association of Personal Historians.

In Writing Your Life Story, Try New Ideas to Capture the Most Important People in Your Life

As a ghostwriter and personal historian who writes the life stories of ordinary people, and a teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes, I’m always looking for new ways to help men and women capture meaningful stories about the most important people in their lives. Recently I’ve been introducing new Story Sparks to help evoke feelings and images that can open the door to richer and more compelling stories about those key people. Story Sparks, by the way, are simply open-ended phrases that you can use as a prompt to begin writing for five or ten minutes in a spontaneous response.

Let’s say you’re planning to write more about your mother. You have certain stories that you know you are going to include in your life story, but then once you get those down you’re left with a sense that there is something more you want to bring forward and you’re not sure how to do it. Try this Story Spark:

“She is/was the kind of mother who would…”

Was she the kind of mother who would always know just what you were up to? Or the kind of mother who would sacrifice her needs for the family? Or the kind of mother who would keep you on your toes? Or the kind of mother who would always be there when you stumbled or fell? 

Notice how just describing your mother this way instantly leads you to recall stories that illustrate and highlight her manner. Plunge right into those stories while they are fresh.

Then see what different associations and stories might be stirred when you add a twist to that Story Spark:

“She is/was the kind of mother who would never…”   

Is she the kind mother who would never say anything to hurt someone’s feelings? Or the kind of mother who would never admit that she was wrong? Or the kind of mother who would never say no when you asked to stop for ice cream? Or the kind of mother who would never let your leave the table before you finished everything on your plate?

Again, watch for those stories that will spill out once you have tapped this feeling tone related to a certain perspective of your mother.

You can experiment with many different approaches to pin down lively and informative descriptions of your mother’s personality and style of parenting. Here are a few other possibilities:

“She is/was the kind of mother who would say things that would make you…”

“She is/was the kind of mother who would wake up every morning and…”

“She is/was the kind of mother who would look at the family budget and…”

You can certainly apply the same kinds of Story Spark prompts to writing about your father, or your grandparents, or any other important person in your life. And if you are a mother or father, you can have fun in writing your life story by flipping the same statements around and applying them to yourself:

“I am the kind of mother who will always (or will never)…”

These are just a few ideas for zeroing in on the kinds of stories that will most make your life story come alive. Feel free to play around with new ideas of your own – and let me know if youc ome up with any that I might add to my list!

– Kevin Quirk, founder of Life Is a Book (formerly Memoirs for life), member of the Association of Personal Historians, and author of the new book “Your Life Is a Book – And It’s Time to Write It! An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story”