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Here’s Mary, tour guide extraordinaire.

Today we’ve put the Magic Dog on a leash and walked down the street to the Corner Cafe, where we’ve caught up with Mary Montague Sikes, a woman who knows exactly what a vacation should involve–an exotic location, a mysterious, studly stranger, a beautiful woman (who is “us,” of course), a spice of danger, and romance. How do we know this? Her popular Passenger to Paradise series proves it. She’s been writing books that offer her readers a taste of the perfect summer vacation for 10 years now.

Bodie: Hi, Mary, thanks for meeting us. We’re all curious, though–why here?  What is The Corner Cafe, and what’s so special about it?

Mary: Almost every small town has a gathering place—a diner, a cozy family-run restaurant. That’s what the Corner Café is for me. This quaint little restaurant has been in business for many years and is now a community landmark.

Bodie: But The Corner Cafe  is also a charming collection of short stories produced by Dani Greer, mastermind and blog book tour maestro, and you have a short story in it, right?

Mary: Right–“A Face at the Window.”

Bodie P: “A Face at the Window” starts out like many of your travel books–a young woman finds herself in dire need of a vacation, so she packs a bag and heads out. But that’s where the similarities end. Your central character, Arianna, has tragically lost a child, and in seeking to escape the anniversary of her loss she winds up in Milwaukee, possibly one of the least “exotic” cities in America. And there’s not a whiff of beefcake in sight. What prompted this story?

Mary: Last summer we spent several days in Milwaukee where I visited the beautiful art museum located on Lake Michigan. One of the exhibits that most impressed me was the bronze sculpture with a countless number of the same male figure, mouth open in a cry. That exhibit left a lasting memory for me. The story itself was prompted by something that happened years ago when our middle daughter was four years old. We were crossing a street to one of the Smithsonian Museums when she suddenly disappeared. I still remember my terrible panic which, of course, she never understood. What if I had never found her?

Bodie: Remember that movie, Tootsie? There’s a scene where Jeff (played by Bill Murray) says, “I don’t want people to say, ‘I saw your play. I liked it.’ I want them to say, ‘I saw your play. What happened?’ “A Face at the Window” is like that. I read your story.  And after I read the closing words I found myself wondering, What happened next? I don’t want to give away the end of the story for those who haven’t read it yet, but is there anything you can share without doing that? If you see Arianna and her daughter in another ten years, where are they? What are they doing?

Mary: That’s a very good question. In this age of the Internet, people do reconnect. Children find parents they never knew. Sometimes reconnecting can destroy a family. I know of one such case. I can see this story as the beginning of a novel. I’m going to think about it.

Bodie: In Arianna, you’ve written a character who badly needs the sort of escape your “Passenger to Paradise” series offers. Since we’re just heading into summer, can you recommend a few summer reading destinations you think we’d particularly enjoy?

Mary: I love the Caribbean where St. Martin is one of my favorite destinations. Although I haven’t written about it yet, I have a story set there waiting for me to tell. My book Secrets by the Sea  is set on another favorite Caribbean Island, Antigua. A sequel, Jungle Jeopardy,  is more of an adventure and is set in Central America. Jamaica is my favorite destination of all—we’ve been there more than a dozen times. My very first novel Hearts Across Forever  is set there. If you enjoy reincarnation stories, you’ll want to read this one.

Bodie: Thanks, Mary, and thanks for introducing us to The Corner Cafe. (All right, all right–full disclosure prompts me to admit that I already know about it, and this is part of a little thing we like to call a “blog book tour,” where a bunch of us bloggers get together and decide we’re going to blog about one thing–in this case, a book for which many of us contributed a short story or two–and we’re going to do it in succession. And so the party rolls across the internet, going from blog to blog, spreading the glad news that The Corner Café is open for business. Tomorrow The Corner Café book tour visits Heidi Thomas‘ very fine blog. Stop in and say hi. If you’d like to download The Corner Cafe for yourself, you can do it here for the very fine price of 99¢. Or, if you’re really thrifty, wait for a free download weekend–I believe we have one coming up soon (like in a couple of days).

Mary: Thank you so much for having me as your guest, Bodie. Now I want to hit the road for one of those beautiful destinations where a fragrant summer breeze dances through my hair.

And thank you, Gentle Readers, for joining us on this stop of The Corner Café’s blog book tour. Here’s the tour itinerary. Please join us for tomorrow’s scheduled event!

June 8 Heidi Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com
June 11 Marian Allen http://www.marianallen.com/
June 12 W.S Gager http://wsgager.blogspot.com
June 13 Chris Verstraete http://candidcanine.blogspot.com
June 14 Helen Ginger http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com
June 15 Kathy Wheeler
June 18 Morgan Mandel Double M http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
June 19 Pat Bean http://patbean.wordpress.com
June 20 Shonell Bacon http://chicklitgurrl.blogspot.com
June 21 Alberta Ross http://albertaross.wordpress.com
June 22 Karen Casey Fitzjerrell http://karencaseyfitzjerrell.blogspot.com
June 25 Pat Stoltey http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com
June 26 SB Lerner http://www.susanblerner.com
June 27 Maryann Miller http://its-not-all-gravy.blogspot.com/
June 28 Mary Montague Sikes http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com
June 29 Stephen Tremp http://breakthroughblogs.blogspot.com

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Years ago, back when I lived in California and drank tea and ate scones at Paddington’s in Beverly Hills and wore designer clothes I sat in my friend Anne’s garden (here’s her picture–isn’t she cute? And she’s looked like that ever since I’ve known her. I wish I could have a DNA transplant). It was late spring, the time of year in California when the skies are still blue, the hills are rich green, and the breezes blow soft.

Anne and I were talking about our friendship. “I remember the day I met you,” she said. “Kevin had just finished interviewing me, and he was showing me around the office. It was after hours and you were cleaning and moving furniture. You were wearing bib overalls and had your hair braided. I looked at you and I knew that you were an old friend I had just met.”

I laughed when she told me that, even as I cringed a bit at her description of me. She was right, though, from the day we met, Anne and I have been old friends. We still are. I admire her serenity, her wisdom, and the love with which she embraces her life and family. She’s a remarkable woman, and I’m proud to have her as my old friend. When I met her she was a designer and I was a writer. Over the years our she has morphed into a photographer and I have morphed into a designer who paints and writes. If her blog is to be believed–and I have no reason to doubt–one of her photos is on its way to winning a National Merit Award.

Anne was right all those years ago, we were old friends who had just met. Today we are just old friends. Because we are, I am much better at recognizing other old friends when I stumble upon them.

Take Barbara Ardinger, for example (that’s Barbara, over there on the left). Barbara was my old friend from the time I saw the words Ars Gratia Pecunia in one of her comments on a list-serv where we were both members. Translated, the phrase means, “Art for the sake of money,” and when I read that I felt like I’d come home. The words glowed on my monitor, and I knew without doubt that the woman who wrote them was an old friend I had not yet met. I also knew that I must have a sampler with those words stitched upon it for my very own. Because she is Barbara, Barbara did it for me–and she did it in colors and images that are designed to promote prosperity. It seems to be working; if Certain People in Offices Far Far Away hadn’t gotten so damned greedy I’d be doing very well indeed. (Stop, Bodie…step away from the computer…easy…easy…now take a deep breath…) Ok, I’m better now. Moving right along.

I was right. Barbara and I are old friends, even though, technically speaking, we have not yet met. And yet I have never wavered in my conviction that she is an old friend. A smart-mouthed old friend, with a killer sense of humor. I’m going to be talking about her for a few posts here, because there’s a lot to say about her. Also because I’ve invited her to come visit, but I haven’t yet whittled the list of questions I’d like to ask her down to manageable size. Until I manage that, I’ve got control of the keyboard, the monitor, and the mouse. I can say what I want.

So back to Barbara. As I said, she’s got a killer sense of humor. Take, for example, the book for which she is perhaps best-known. It’s called Finding New Goddesses, and I’d really urge you to click here and see what Barbara has to say about it because it’s fun and engaging. For those of you who don’t have the time, the premise is that we should be as free to discover the goddesses that rule our modern lives as the ancients were to discover the goddesses that ruled theirs. Barbara backed her argument up with a book about this modern pantheon, which she discovered as she navigated her urban Southern California life.

I’m going to give you one of the new goddesses, but first I should mention that Barbara is a wonderful editor, that she loves the theater, and that she’s a regular on Women’s Radio, an amazing site that networks blogging, webcasts, book reviews, articles, and discussion groups into a remarkable whole. You should check it out. More about Barbara tomorrow, but for now, meet one of my favorites among the New Goddesses, for obvious reasons.

Artissima: Goddess of Drawing Covers and Kicking Ass

Here She stands upon the summit of Mount Parnassus, head, shoulders and starry boots above color-blind drawing hacks and naïve art directors.

“Do not mess with The Book,” Artissima says in Her voice like thunder. “Be not secretive of deadlines nor stingy of communication.”

Carrying Her pencils, crayons, paintbrushes, and styli, Artissima descends from the mountain and betakes Herself into the publisher’s office. “Now see here,” She says, “a book cover, like magnet, must attract, not repel. You must,” She says, pointing at an illustration with a Very Large Pencil, “use images that are both eye catching and refer to symbols with Layers Of Meaning. Do you get it?” She pokes the art director with a stylus, purely to get her attention. “This cauldron tells us that the author is floating in the stew of her over-wrought imagination.” Artissima winks, which is a Sight To Behold. “You know how authors are. Every little carrot or turnip or bit of grease in the stew is some damn metaphor or other. They just stew and stew around, and We Must Draw What They Are Thinking.”

The publisher blinks. “But we have artists—“ he begins.

“—oh, no,” says Artissima in Her voice of thunder. “Oh, no, you do not! Software is not Art. Software is created by programmers and nerds. Art is created by Me.” She pokes the publisher in the eye with a sharp stick. “Got that, bub? Got that??”

“Uh, yes,” he says, retreating behind his desk and picking up a contract to shield himself. “And the spirals?” he asks, to change the subject. “What do spirals signify?”

“The spirals,” says Artissima, drawing three interlinked spirals in the air with her biggest brush, and the air begins to gleam and glitter, “the spirals are curvilinear shapes that create a feminine and welcoming tone. See here,” She says, “there are no sharp divisions of space so that the essence of inclusion rather than isolation is created. Got that??”

“Yes, ma’am,” says the publisher. “You betcha,” says the art director.

“And also,” says Artissima, “the spirals say that the author’s mind has been, shall we say, bent and curved by substances of an illusory and creative nature. The author spirals into the ethers, where It Is My Job to Catch Her And Bring Her Back To Earth. Trust me,” the goddess adds, “I know what I’m doing.”

“Oh, Artissima,” say the publisher and the art director, “now that we understand, we do trust you. We do, we do, we do, we really do! Oh, Artissima, please draw this cover for us. Please draw the cover for every book we ever publish.”

“Damn straight,” says Artissima, and She settles down at Her Cosmic Drawing Board. The drawing begins.

So if you live in Southern California and find yourself in need of some really lovely portrait photography, give Anne a call; her contact info is on her website. And if you live anywhere and find yourself in need of an editor, a theater buddy, or a new goddess, call Barbara; she’s your best bet.

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Lorraine Ash. Photo by Bob Karp, www.bobkarpphotos.com.
Lorraine Ash
(Photo by Bob Karp, www.bobkarpphotos.com)

Today journalist, writing teacher, author, and activist Lorraine Ash joins us to discuss one of the great challenges of writing a memoir: examining an often-painful experience both honestly, and engagingly. She’s got a busy schedule, but has agreed to stop by from time to time and answer questions. If you’d like to ask her something, comment, or just say ‘hi,’ she’d love to hear from you.

Q: What prompted you to not just write privately about your experience, but to seek publication?

Lorraine: Life Touches Life is a spiritual memoir, a genre that works on two levels. First, the writer is healed by the connections made, sometimes in the act of writing. Perhaps an emotion hooks up with a new thought, or part of an experience juxtaposes with a particular reflection. Then, voilà. An epiphany bursts into existence on the page, or the author draws a larger circle of context around the subject matter. Either one can make all the difference in shifting her consciousness. That shift equals healing and often wisdom.

What comes to mind is an exquisite passage from Drinking: A Love Story, a memoir by the late Caroline Knapp. She recalls sitting in the hospital with her ill father when he looks up and says, “Insight is almost always a rearrangement of fact.” The quote flies its way into her mind during her darkest hour and she writes:

As I sat in Michael’s kitchen that morning, reading Esquire and feeling so paralyzed, I remembered those words. A rearrangement of fact.

Fact One: I drank too much.
Fact Two: I was desperately unhappy.

I had always thought: I drink because I’m unhappy. Just then, I shifted the equation, rearranged the words: Maybe, just maybe, I’m unhappy because I drink.

I love how that epiphany happens mundanely, almost incidentally, and changes her life.

Now for the second level on which a spiritual memoir works. Often such a book is a gift of presence to readers often grappling alone with the same subject matter in particular or in general. For instance, though bereaved mothers of infants are mainly the readers of Life Touches Life, the book also is meaningful to others who know large griefs that may subside and morph over time but never go away. I’m talking about addicts, veterans and cancer patients.

There’s another reason, though, that I sought publication for Life Touches Life and it deals with the nature of stillbirth. Stillborn babies never were part of the social order and generally were seen, often for mere minutes, only by their parents. So these babies are literally invisible. Culturally speaking, whatever is invisible is easy to forget or ignore. By definition, stillborn babies also are voiceless. Politically speaking, whoever has no voice wields no power.

A book, however, is a physical presence in the world. It travels. It raises consciousness. Its existence helps to gain acknowledgment for the pain of stillbirth parents, which often is minimized and always misunderstood, and to gain attention for the importance of funding medical research that may one day prevent some stillbirths.

On a personal level, I must add, there was and is profound healing in being able to hold in my hand the story of Victoria. For an entire lifetime, after all, I cannot hold Victoria.

Q: Did you have second thoughts about going public about something that touches so close to the bone?

Lorraine: No. Topics that touch close to the bone are the ones most worth writing about. Ernest Hemingway once said you have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. He is correct.

Q: What sorts of considerations played into the way you told your story?

Lorraine: There were a few self-imposed rules I followed.

My first rule, which probably comes from my decades of experience in journalism, was to start the story by simply telling what happened. It’s a great rule, especially if what happened isn’t simple. Powerful experiences of all types speak for themselves and somehow embellishment and the insertion of extra emotional language detracts from their power.

Here’s an example. As a young reporter, I covered the appearance of the Dalai Lama. I was filled with reverence to talk to him and, frankly, even to look into his eyes. When I returned to the newsroom, I wrote nine leads and had trouble continuing. No lead seemed adequate to capture the emotion of the story. I was paralyzed by my desire to make the reader feel the story – not just see and hear it. Yet it was just the seeing and the hearing that had inspired me.

I’m not sure what would have happened that day if an old-time city editor hadn’t looked over my shoulder to see how the story was coming along. He patted me on the shoulder and said, “Just write what happened.” I did, and it worked.

My second rule: Don’t protect the readers from the fullness of the experience. To leave out pivotal parts for fear of scaring or overwhelming them would have diluted their experience of my experience. Why is that bad? Because it’s untruthful. If an author is not going to write the truth and bear full witness to whatever corner of the world in which fate has placed her, why write at all? Also, readers intuitively sense when they are being protected, which can lead them to distrust the author. Once that happens, the spell between author and reader is broken.

My third rule: No self-pity. If a writer feels this emotion, it’s important to process it, perhaps in a journal, before it spills into the text of the book. Some readers, including mine, will pick up a book to get themselves out of a self-pitying emotional loop.

Q: We’ve been talking about what makes a story that’s “worth the telling” into a story that’s “worth the hearing (or reading).” What do you think it is about your story that makes it “worth the hearing” for so many?

Lorraine: The story has the inherent value of opening a window into a corner of the human experience that most people will never see.

Also, though, it is a story of the triumph of the divine spirit that resides inside every human being. No one expressed interest in the book when it was titled Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth. Publishers started reading the book and entertaining the idea of releasing it after I changed the title to Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing.  The “healing” part bespeaks a resolution and suggests pulling something positive out of something dreadfully negative.

The truth is that the death of an infant is one of the worst fates to befall a human being. The promise of the book, however, is that the divine light can shine even into that dark place. If that’s not a message worth hearing, I don’t what is.

Q: How did you balance the need to be true to your experience with the need to tell your story in a reader-sensitive way?

Lorraine: While giving the readers the fullness of the experience is important, it’s equally necessary to regulate the intensity of the narrative by rolling out the experience in pieces. For instance, break up an intense scene with a calm moment or reflective prose. Presenting too much closeup action too fast can make a great story read like melodrama. It also can overload the readers’ proverbial circuits and even confuse them.

Another way to be sensitive to readers is to make one of the threads in a memoir purely educational. It’s a mistake for an author to assume all readers know a great deal about the subject. For instance, many people believe stillbirth does not happen today. They think it’s something from a Charles Dickens novel, an unfortunate fate that befell people in times gone by when medicine wasn’t sophisticated enough to save babies. Not so. Today 26,000 American babies a year are lost to stillbirth, which means they die after at least 20 weeks gestation. Worldwide, the number is four million. Staggering.

So I infused my narrative with facts to enlighten the average person and let them know stillbirth happens to women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, even those with top-notch medical care. I educate them about Group B Strep, the infection that killed my daughter and almost took my life. I educate them about other causes of stillbirth, too. I unroll information as my own story advances, which also lets readers know I’m not one woman who had a freak experience.

Recently I read Well Enough Alone: A Cultural History of My Hypochondria, a memoir by Jennifer Traig, who did a superb job of broadening the appeal of her story by offering splashes of information about hypochondria and how it was treated during different historic eras. Traig also brought the theme into the present by pointing out that so-called “symptom finders” on the Internet have helped increase the incidence of hypochondria in the twenty-first century. This new development in the history of the disorder is called cyberchondria.

The interesting information – and the author’s humor – give Traig’s readers a break from the sometimes disgusting disease-oriented obsessions that filled her mind for most of her life. Her readers won’t understand her obsessions if she doesn’t state them. So she does, but not without mitigating them.

Q: How did you go about finding the right publisher for your memoir?

Lorraine: The search for a publisher, or editor, is the search for a single individual who “gets” the story and feels at least one aspect of it with conviction. At first I was represented with a particularly communicative and gracious agent who interested a number of editors at various publishing houses in the story. But none felt the level of conviction required.

Eventually, I took the book back and approached individual independent publishing houses. I selected them based on the feeling I got when surfing their websites. When I found NewSage Press in Oregon, I sensed both compassion, courage and intelligence in the selection of the titles and the treatment of the subjects.

I’ll never forget what Maureen Michelson, editor and publisher at NewSage Press, said in our first conversation. “Stillbirth is just another woman’s story that hasn’t been told,” she said, “and I’m in business to tell those stories.” So there was the fire of conviction that sparked the book’s journey.

Turns out, it’s a long and ongoing journey. Readers of Life Touches Life come from across the United States as well as from the Middle East, Australia, Europe, China, Canada and Mexico.

Q: Looking back, are there things you’d do differently if you were writing LTL now?

Lorraine: I’d make an outline before starting to write.

Q: What sorts of responses have you gotten to LTL?

Lorraine: By this point I must have received some 800 personal letters from individual stillbirth mothers. The vast majority fully enter the spiritual place the book opens to them. They like the peace that comes with maintaining a spiritual relationship with their deceased children, which is one of the themes of Life Touches Life. What pleases me especially is that I receive letters from mothers of all religious and spiritual persuasions and they all report resonating with the spirituality of the book which, like its author, draws upon the wisdom of many traditions.

The bereaved mothers also feel their emotions are validated by the book. The validation is key because most women report they do not find it elsewhere.

Some mothers, mostly those who do not live in metropolitan areas of the United States, also write me asking questions about what happened to them. Here’s an example: I recently received an 11-page handwritten note on yellow legal paper from a 25-year-old cosmetician in a Southern state telling me about her experience losing her son in an umbilical cord accident. She was obviously unaware of a huge body of research and resources available on this topic, so I wrote back to her with information that could truly help her in her next pregnancy. Of course, she and I also related fully on emotional issues as well.

Other reactions to my book come from nurses, social workers and therapists who are enthused about having a story to put in the hands of their patients whose lives have been touched by stillbirths. A sizable excerpt and photograph from the book are featured in the seminal textbook used to train nurses in the United States; they appeared and remain in the first edition to include a chapter on caring for patients who have endured a perinatal loss.

I’ve been approached by bereaved parental groups in several states to make presentations on writing for the purpose of healing. I’ve been asked to endorse some ten other books about stillbirth and write the foreword for one – Mourning Sarah by Theresa Huttlinger Vigour, which was released in the United States and United Kingdom. Sometimes, believe it or not, bloggers ask for interviews, too.

Now a word about my response to my readers. I’ll put it this way: I love them. I’ve learned in the almost seven years that Life Touches Life has been available that my patience with and passion for stillbirth mothers is actually boundless.

Q: How did you go about marketing it?

Lorraine: During my years-long book tour I’ve spoken at more book signings, “walks to remember,” and hospitals than I can remember. I’ve done lots of radio, magazine and newspaper interviews and talked in person to numerous Compassionate Friends groups – from local chapters to the national conference in Michigan.

I’ve met at small gatherings of bereaved parents in living rooms and churches and, on one occasion, around the dining room table at a Victorian bed-and-breadfast in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

These scenes from my tour should help you capture its scope and nature. I recall:

Reading to 500 people in Las Vegas during an outdoor event that opened an international conference on perinatal grief. The mountains that surrounded us seemed endless and, as evening fell, the scene was illuminated by hundreds of candles floating in pools of water;

Walking the halls of Congress with a contingent of lobbyists during First Candle’s Advocacy Day for Infant Survival. We made a case for funding stillbirth research. At each Congressional office I gifted a copy of Life Touches Life to every senator and representative who met with us;

Hugging a particular woman at my table during the Missing GRACE Foundation conference in Minnesota. Later she wrote to me that she considered that hug a kind welcome into the club of stillbirth mothers, a club she never wanted to join;

Preparing for the television cameras at News 12 New Jersey, where I was interviewed for a half-hour segment on stillbirth that had my phone ringing for months.

Q: How has your life changed as a result of writing this book?

Lorraine: There is an unspeakable and deep confidence and satisfaction that comes from writing one’s own story. In my 29 years as a journalist, I’ve chronicled hundreds of other people’s stories and, oh, how I love that.

But my own stories are the only ones I can tell from the inside out. To do so is to clean out the psyche, to deepen oneself, to pull compassion and wisdom from pain and adversity. There is nothing like that feeling and from it springs more writing and the desire to help others write their own stories and witness their corners of existence.

I teach memoir a lot now. With every weekend retreat, with every afternoon workshop, my love for memoir grows.

Writing is magic. For the self and for the culture, it is the ultimate alchemy.

Thank you, Lorraine, for spending time here today. To learn more about Lorraine or Life Touches Life, stop by her website, or visit NewSage Press.

https://i0.wp.com/www.newsagepress.com/lifetoucheslife350.jpg
Read an excerpt
or buy the book here,
at NewSage press, or at Amazon.

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Writing beautifully about painful things isn’t easy. Just ask  Lorraine Ash, whose memoir Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing examines an experience of almost unimaginable pain: after a picture-perfect pregnancy, Lorraine learns that her daughter Victoria has contracted an infection and died. Life Touches Life walks readers through her experience–and does it in engaging, accessible, and honest terms.

https://i0.wp.com/www.newsagepress.com/lifetoucheslife350.jpg
Read an excerpt
or buy the book here,
at NewSage press, or at Amazon.
Photos courtesy of NewSage Press and Lorraine Ash.

Full disclosure here: I first heard about Lorraine’s story from Maureen Michelson, publisher at NewSage Press. “We’re going to be doing a book called Life Touches Life,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough book, so we’ll need to do everything we can to make it beautiful without distorting or trivializing the topic. I’m editing with the needs of a grieving audience in mind–keeping chapters short, stuff like that. The design’s going to need to do the same thing–we’ll need to have larger type, more white space–we just really have to make this book as easy to read as possible.”

So it was as a designer that I first confronted the question that I now face as a writer: How do you write honestly about things that most of us would prefer not to think about–and do it in terms that pull your audience into your experience, carry them along through the hard times, and somehow keep your story from becoming overwhelmingly painful? Journalist, writing teacher, and author Lorraine Ash manages to do exactly that. Even better, she knows how she did it–and she’s talking.

Lorraine Ash. Photo by Bob Karp, www.bobkarpphotos.com.
Lorraine Ash
(Photo by Bob Karp, www.bobkarpphotos.com)

We’ll be starting the conversation Wednesday night; and Lorraine will be in and out to answer questions on Thursday. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Lorraine, you can do it here, at her website.

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