Just Write

Writing settles my soul —Rachael Herron

Today’s “Just Write” post is an excerpt of Holly Robinson’s interview of Rachael Herron. (Edited for brevity. Click on Huffpost link below to read entire interview.) Holly Robinson writes: One of my favorite things about being a writer is having the chance to meet other writers whose books I admire. I probably admire few books as much as I do Splinters of Light, my new friend Rachael Herron’s powerful, poignant, and surprisingly comic novel inspired by a People magazine article about the impact of early-onset Alzheimer’s on a woman and her family. In the hands of another writer, this topic could be dreary and depressing, but Rachael spins a story of resilience and love that leaves you believing in the healing power of family and forgiveness. Splinters of Light is a reading experience you won’t soon forget. Here’s a look at how Rachael works — she’s a prolific author of romance novels,…

Book Reviews

The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron

The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron reviewed by Shelly Tracy Gilliland: Rachael Herron never disappoints! Her characters are so believable you might think you live next door to any one of them. Her story lines and dialogue are real, too. I don’t read a book I don’t like because my TBR (to be read) list is far too long for that. The Ones Who Matter Most will engage you from start to finish. Shelly Tracey Gilliland reads voraciously, writes and quilts at her cozy home in northeast Indiana. Review by Marlene Cullen: Herron has the unique ability to write a scene that feels and sounds so real, it’s as if I’m right next to these characters as they move through their lives —at work, at home, running errands. I ride alongside the heroine as she navigates new and tricky waters. I clutch onto her jacket as she is…

Guest Bloggers

Does failure weigh more than success?

Guest Blogger Rachael Herron writes about successes and failures. It’s December! I know this for a fact (I just rechecked the calendar). No matter which hemisphere you’re in, regardless of season, this year is getting ready for her final bow. It’s completely impossible that 2015 is almost over because about seventeen minutes ago the year was just starting, full of potential and wonder and pale spring-green hope. I’m prone to doing what everyone else does at the end of a year: weighing the past year’s successes and failures against each other. But you know what? Failure weighs way more than success. When you put things on that imaginary scale, each small failure weighs as much as a wheelbarrow full of rocks while each huge success weighs almost nothing. Success makes you lighter—it makes you able to float for a minute or even an hour—while failure drags you so low your…

Just Write

How To Write A Memoir — Part One

Your Life. You lived it. Surely you can write about it. Right? In How To Write A Memoir, Part 1, we’ll discuss methods and ideas about writing personal stories, with links to published memoirs. How To Write A Memoir, Part 2, we’ll cover organizing, revising and more. You can write in chronological order, or build your story around pivotal events. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what structure you use. Write in a style that is comfortable for you. Try one way and if isn’t working for you, try something else. Memoirs written in chronological order (with back story woven in): To Have Not by Frances Lefkowitz  and Grief Denied by Pauline Laurent. Rachael Herron, A Life in Stitches, assembles her stories around her knitting experiences. For the first draft, it’s fine to jump around in time. Don’t worry too much about making sense in the early stage of writing….

Just Write

Write authentically about difficult subjects

I recently read an outstanding novel, Splinters of Light, by Rachael Herron, “a poignant and beautiful novel about love, loss, and the unbreakable bonds of family—particularly those between mothers, daughters, and sisters.” — Amazon In this full-of-heart novel, the mother has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I wondered how Rachael could write so authentically and intimately about something she didn’t have personal experience with. This is the gift of a writer who knows how to research and turn that information into a compelling story. I asked her how she wrote so authentically about early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD). Her answer: “I love immersing myself in the worlds I write about, but I’ll admit this was a hard one. Because there’s no cure for early-onset Alzheimer’s, there are really no happy endings. So I had to read about and research families that were breaking apart, but still focus on the happy parts of…

Book Reviews

Splinters of Light by Rachael Herron

Rachael Herron has done an amazing job creating believable and likable characters, twins Nora and Mariana, and Nora’s teenage daughter, Elle. We journey with Nora as she navigates the tricky maze of a newly discovered disease and the equally difficult struggle as single parent to Elle. Herron writes with grace, love and authority about a difficult subject. I admire her ability to tackle a subject that isn’t easy to talk about: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Towards the end, I stayed up into the wee hours, reading. I had to find out what would happen to these characters I grew to love. Brilliant writing, exquisite characters, excellent story line. Splinters of Light is one of the best books I have read. I adore . . . LOVE . . . these characters. They now live in my heart. Phew! Worked up a sweat typing this. Need some lemonade to cool down….

Just Write

Make characters real and likable.

Play around with different ways to describe characters in stories. Here are examples of how to make characters real and likable and how to capture readers’ interest. What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg “My mother was dressed in her beautiful yellow summer robe, the tie cinched evenly into a bow at the exact center of her waist, but her auburn hair was sticking up in the back, an occasional occurrence that I always hated seeing, since in my mind it suggested a kind of incompetence. It was an unruly cowlick, nearly impossible to tame — I knew this, having an identical cowlick of my own — but I did not forgive its presence on my mother. It did not go with the rest of her looks: her deep blue eyes, her thin, sculptured nose, her high cheekbones, her white, white skin — all signs, I was certain, of some distant…

Just Write

Use sensory detail and be specific.

I love gorgeous writing and wonder how authors produce writing so vivid you feel as if you are in their world. One idea is to watch what people really do when talking, use sensory detail and be specific. For example, author Rachael Herron creates believable fictional characters. There is so much to like about her writing. One tool she employs well is the actions her characters engage in while talking. The dialogue develops character and moves the story along. The action makes the characters believable. Here are some examples from “How to Knit a Heart Back Home.” Owen twisted the [plastic] spoon in his fingers. He would not rub the scar on his hip, which suddenly burned. Lucy took the now mangled plastic spoon out of his hand and then threaded her fingers through his. Dropping his eyes from hers, Owen watched Lucy’s pulse flicker rapidly in the hollow of…


The temptation is to lie. . .

If we become honest in our talking and dealing with people, if we go deep and tell the genuine truth, will that carry over to our writing? And will we then go deep and become authentic in our writing? The temptation is to not go where it hurts. The temptation is to lie in order to resist the painful truth. I recently read Pack Up the Moon by Rachael Herron and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Both of these authors went deep in their writing and the resulting books are genuine, authentic and fabulous reads. . . where the characters and their problems deeply touched me.  Rachael and Meg did not resist writing about painful truths. How about you? Can you recommend books that deeply touched you?  What other authors go deep in their writing? I can think of Jodi Piccoult. Your turn. Photo by Kent Sorensen

Book Reviews

Pack Up The Moon by Rachael Herron

Pack Up The Moon by Rachael Herron packs a powerful punch. I was completely transported into the world of the characters who inhabit this story, who felt so real, as if I could reach out and touch them. During the last few pages, I was able to crawl back into my own skin. This deep and provocative story may be a difficult book for many people to read. Rachael writes powerfully and thoughtfully about sensitive subject matters with an expertise of juggling several characters and their emotions. She weaves in backstory seamlessly with smooth transitions. Because Pack Up The Moon is such a sensitive and deep book, I don’t want to give you just my opinion. I want to share what others think of this book. If you have read this many-faceted book and want to share your thoughts and reactions, I would love to hear from you. You can…