If you’re looking for a friendly environment with good food in which to share your writing for some gentle, constructive criticism, the Writing Workshop Workshop is for you! We meet at 2 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month at Allyn’s Cafe in historic Columbia-Tusculum. Bring seven minutes’ worth of reading to share, $5 for the kitty — or more if you plan to eat or drink. We meet in the secret back room. I hope to see you there!
Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’
I was invited on a Writing Blog Tour by Trudy Krisher (check out her blog at www.trudykrisher.blogspot.com). I’m ashamed to admit that I was on deadline when my “whistlestop” came, so I hope the train didn’t leave the station without me!
Trudy invited me to answer some questions about my work and writing process. Here are my answers.
1) What are you working on?
I just finished a book for the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing called University of Cincinnati College of Nursing: 125 Years of Transforming Health Care. The book will be published by Orange Frazer Press in time for the college’s 125th anniversary celebration in November. I really enjoyed learning about how UC’s nursing college was formed by a group of Cincinnati’s leading ladies, then went on to become the first to offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing, and is now leading nursing education by offering online nursing degrees and using technology in nursing.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
So far all my books have been in the genre of nonfiction, but I have written for both adults and YA. I’d say that my work differs in that no matter what I write (I’m finishing up my first novel now), I want my readers to come away thinking, “Wow—I didn’t know that! That was interesting!” One of my supervisors also told me once, “That sense of humor of yours is never very far from the surface, is it?” He didn’t mean it in a good way, though. Incidentally, he is in my last book, Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati, but I won’t tell you who he is.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write what I do for a variety of reasons, but often it’s because I’m asked to and I find the topic interesting. The College of Nursing book will be my eighth book. That means that half of the books I’ve published now were my idea and half were the publisher’s (or client’s) idea. But I have to find it interesting, or I wouldn’t be able to stick with it for an entire book.
4) How does your writing process work?
In almost every case—whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, magazine article or book—I start with a bubble map. I get all my existing ideas down on paper. I get all my “gaps”—my questions, or lack of knowledge—down on paper. Then I start researching, organizing or writing from there, depending on what type of work it is. But I always start with a bubble map. I have about 20 bubble maps going right now for books, essays and articles that I’d like to publish someday. It’s also a good exercise if I find myself stuck in traffic, or a boring meeting, or waiting in a doctor’s office without anything to read. When I finally get to the writing step, I tend to write nonfiction directly on the computer (because it’s less of a visceral process and more of an intellectual one for me). But with fiction, I tend to write it longhand, on lined paper. I spend a bit of time thinking about what type of writing implement I feel like that day. Then I think about what writing position and lighting I want to be in. It’s very organic.
Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati has just hit the streets. If you want to hear a little bit about the book, check out the interview I did with Mark Perzel on WVXU’s Cincinnati Edition on May 16, 2014.
Founders and Famous Families starts with a look at the geological forces that made our city the sinus capital of the world that it is, then touches upon the native peoples who were here before the European Americans started arriving from New Jersey, New York and New England. The founding families in Cincinnati have been joined by new faces and new names, but many of them still remain to become the foundational families of the future.
On Wednesday, May 28, we will be holding the official book launch at the Cincinnati Museum Center at 7 p.m. I’ll talk about Nicholas Longworth as part of their regular Insights Lecture Series in a presentation called “a Glass of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Wow!” The talk will be followed by Q&A and coffee reception/book signing.
The arrival of Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati is being heralded by talks at the annual “Books and Brunch” May 7 and a book launch at the Cincinnati Museum Center May 28.
After two years of research and writing, I am extremely pleased to announce that Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati is now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, Powells.com, or a local bookstore near you (like Joseph-Beth, here in Cincinnati).
And if you’re here in Cincinnati, you have two opportunities to hear me speak on topics from the book coming up in May.
First, I will be one of four featured speakers on May 7 at the “Books & Brunch” for the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati. They’re a nonprofit that helps children and adults with educational and health “gap” needs and helps them succeed in removing themselves from abusive environments. So, given the focus of what they do, I am talking about DeHart Hubbard and his being the first African American to win an individual Olympic gold medal, then winning an Enquirer contest that gave him a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan and what a successful, meaningful life he had afterward. Hubbard was the great-uncle of former Cincinnati mayor and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Second, the official book launch takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, at the Cincinnati Museum Center. I will talk about Nicholas Longworth in a presentation called “A Glass of Wine, a Loaf of Bread and Wow!” The talk will be followed by Q&A and a book signing.
I did a lot of my research for the book at the Museum Center (and of course at the fantastic Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library) and the Museum Center is a wonderful, valuable resource in our community, so I am donating 5 percent of my profits to the Museum Center.
The May 28 event is free (except for $4 for parking; handicapped accessible parking is available). Wood, Herron & Evans is sponsoring a coffee reception during the book signing.
I’m supposed to be doing a book signing in June at Joseph-Beth, but the details of that haven’t been firmed up yet. Check back for more info!
When gazing at the city’s impressive skyline, we too often forget the notable individuals who built these grand and glittering buildings, as well as the nearby museums, parks and neighborhoods we also treasure. Reflected in the character, reputation and even design of our city, the legacy of the early settlers continues on today. Through their efforts, almost always imbued with a civic entrepreneurial spirit, they stamped their mark on our burgeoning regional reputation, while also allowing current leaders to bolster and broaden our national reputation.
Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati brings to life the founding families’ histories, sharing these intertwined and fascinating tales with readers near and far. A charming history of lives lived large — truly the Who’s Who (as well as the When and Where) of Cincinnati — that when considered together, made the Queen City the great place to live and work that it is today.
Mary Thomas Watts, writer for the “Gary Burbank Show” on WLW:
“Wendy Hart Beckman’s Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati is an enchantingly fresh, generation by generation narrative of the men and women whose dreams, hard work, governance and philanthropy built the Queen City.
Beckman’s meticulous historical research, her affection for the city she calls home, and her luminous good humor reward the reader from first page to last. Informative, inspiring, entertaining, and a whole lot of fun to boot, Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati is a must read for Cincinnati aficionados, those who live here and those who would if they only could.”
Ann Hagedorn, author of Wild Ride, Beyond the River, and more:
“Have you been to Losantiville? No? Think again. You may live there, for this was Cincinnati’s first name. And it is just one of many fascinating details unveiled in Wendy Beckman’s new book Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati. The names may be familiar but the facts are often fresh in this depiction of the Queen City’s past. Beckman not only shows us Cincinnati’s significance to the nation from the start, both culturally and economically, but she deepens our understanding of the individuals who shaped the city’s uniqueness and spurred its success. The struggles, the risks, the sacrifices, the wealth, the crises, the excitement. It’s all there. Did you know that Cincinnati’s 1813 volunteer fire department was the first in the nation, that 8,000 Cincinnatians perished in the 1849 cholera epidemic, and that 150 furniture factories once thrived in the town? It’s a good read for all of us who love Cincinnati and always want to know more.”
Posted in Writing Life, tagged critique, editing, feedback, get published, manuscripts, marketing, nonfiction, process, reading, self-published book, traditional publishing, writing workshops on March 17, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Sunday, March 23, at 2 p.m. will be another of our great Writing Workshop Workshops. As usual, we’ll be gathering downstairs at Olive’s in Cincinnati’s Clifton Gaslight District.
Bring seven minutes’ worth of your writing to read, $5 for the kitty, your books to sell, any publishing or writing questions you’d like to ask, and a friend or two. I hope I will have a big announcement for you!
Head’s up for April: on Sunday, April 27 (same time, same place), at our Writing Workshop Workshop, we’ll be joined by Carol Topp, CPA, author of Business Tips and Taxes for Writers. It’s too late for your 2013 filing, but Carol will have lots of great advice for your 2014 return on how to be a professional writer, in terms of what’s deductible and what’s not.
So put April 27 on your calendar, and in the meantime I hope to see you Sunday, March 23, at 2!
Looking for a gift for a loved one this holiday season? I’d like to make a few recommendations. You might notice a theme here. OK, I’ll make a full disclosure: the following are books I edited.
Want your mind to be entertained with some food for thought while your stomach is digesting its own food? Then take a look at Benjamin Gorman’s The Sum of Our Gods.
Here’s the description from the author: Joe has been cursed. He must meet with Yahweh, the Creator, once a week for coffee and listen to God complain. Yahweh is a crotchety old deity with a pantheon of family problems. His wife, Frigga, has basically stopped talking to Him, except to nag Him about retiring. His son, Jesus, suffers from crippling depression. Oh, and Jesus’ estranged wife is planning a terrorist attack to start a holy war. God is fed up with all the drama. He’s perfectly tired and infinitely irritable. Though God doesn’t seem to care about human problems, Joe’s little, mortal life isn’t perfect, either. In fact, it’s a comedy as black as God’s coffee.
My two cents: The Sum of Our Gods, Ben Gorman’s first published novel, just blew my socks off in a quirky way. Ben’s paternal grandparents are Catholic and Jewish; their son — Ben’s father, is a Presbyterian minister — as is Ben’s mother. Ben, himself, holds a degree in philosophy, is married to a Quaker, teaches creative writing and calls himself agnostic. How could he not help but write a brilliant novel full of the gods wrestling with their demons and each other? Yes, godS. His working title for the book was “And Lo, God Took His Coffee Black” (in case you wondered.) This is a fantastic debut novel, and I can’t wait for Ben’s second!
If you don’t want to think that hard, or if nonfiction is more what you’re looking for, try Paige Adams Strickland’s Akin to the Truth. Her memoir would be of interest to people in the adoption triad or anyone who grew up in the Cincinnati area in the 1960s and 70s.
From the author: In 1961 Paige was put up for adoption, a more taboo and secretive topic than it is today. Paige’s adoptive family chose not to focus on the adoption, but instead function as a regular family with natural children. However, being adopted made her feel vulnerable and unreal. She longed to know more about her true self. In Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity, Paige tells stories from the perspective of a child and adolescent, growing up with a closely guarded secret. Through vignettes, Paige relates feelings about her adoption to forming and maintaining relationships, caring for pets, moving to new houses and neighborhoods, losing loved ones and entering young adulthood. Her need for acceptance is juxtaposed with her adoptive father’s increasingly erratic behavior. This is a tale of family joys and hardships, friendships, falling in love and the need to belong. It is set in the era of free love, social unrest and unexpected change during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
From me: Throughout Paige’s childhood, she struggled with feelings of loss, establishing her identity, and tiptoeing through an awkward relationship with her father. Knowing that she was adopted heightened these challenges and added another: finding her birth family. In this entertaining memoir, Paige recounts how she faced her “demons,” and how she learned that she was not alone.
Spreading our interest geographically and chronologically brings us to another memoir, Over My Shoulder: 1931–1945, by the distinguished Ewin Gaby.
About the book: History books generally avoid the details of human life. They tell of what happened at a time, but not how it affected those living through that time. The depression of the 1930’s and the war of the early 1940’s changed the world, and history books provide great detail as to the causes and of the changes brought about. Still, how families handled these challenges cannot be told in a book of history, because each family had its own manner of living through these significant historical periods. This book is the story of how a young boy and his family live through the depression of the 30’s and the Second World War. Unlike many others, his father is employed, but that employment causes them to live in 145 towns in his first ten years. When the Second World War begins, they move to New Orleans for the next four years. What a way to grow up!
A few notes from me: Ewin’s book is available in paperback, Kindle or CD version. I recommend the CD highly. With his combination Texas–Louisiana accent, Ewin reads his memoir wonderfully. You can sit back and just listen to a time when kids played outside until it got dark, when mothers and kids pulled together to make the family run while fathers were away during the war, when school kids ran paper drives to support the war effort. Shoot, if your father or grandfather is no longer with you, get the CD and it’s as if you’re together again, hearing stories about the old days, when life was simple.
And a little shameless self-promotion:
My first book, Artists and Writers of the Harlem Renaissance (Enslow, 2002) has gone into a second printing. Now titled Harlem Renaissance Artists and Writers, it is available in library binding, paperback and e versions.
In this book I profile ten African Americans who had key contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, an explosion of creativity that started in New York City in the 1920s. The Harlem Renaissance lasted for about 20 years and had even international repercussions.
Here’s one review of the original book:
Harlem, New York, was the setting for a cultural upsurge in the 1920’s and 1930’s. During those decades a series of Black writers, artists, vocalists, and poets sprang forth and gave voice to the conditions of African-Americans. At a time when racial prejudice was even more overt than in our own age, it took great courage for Black artists to stand up and honestly portray their lot in America. Artists such as Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, and Josephine Baker all provided a unique expression to what it meant to be a Black person either living in America or with American roots. This artistic movement came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance and that is the subject covered in this collection of short biographies. In this illustrated selection author Wendy Hart Beckman provides encapsulated biographies of ten artists who participated in the Harlem Renaissance. In each instance Ms. Beckman provides a careful outline of the artist’s background, development, contributions, and later life. This is a good reference tool for readers with an interest in African-American history or specifically Black artists of this era. The Harlem Renaissance was a significant movement in American culture and Ms. Beckman does well to offer readers a summary of some of the leading lights of that period.
Our next Writing Workshop Workshop is on Sunday, June 30, at Olive’s on Ludlow in Clifton’s old gaslight district in Cincinnati, Ohio. We officially gather at 2 p.m., but if you want to take advantage of Olive’s breakfast buffet, get there by 1:30! We need to be done by 5 p.m., so the first 10 people to get there and sign up will get to read.
The group is a great mix of people in many genres and subgenres: memoir, fiction, poetry, nonfiction. If you’re a newbie, you’re more than welcome to just attend and soak up the atmosphere, if you like. Or if you want to read, bring seven minutes’ worth of reading and $5 for the kitty (meow). Bring more money if you intend to eat. :-)