Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Allure and Redemptive Nature of Road Trips

Welcome David Berner, author of Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons. So, who's up for a road trip??? After reading David's guest post, I certainly am! Check it out:


The Allure and Redemptive Nature of Road Trips
By David W. Berner

It was an early Sunday morning in June. Dad shook me out of my sleep just as the sun was coming up. He didn’t know that I had been up half the night waiting for this day and he most likely didn’t notice the book hidden in the tangles of my bed covers. It was an illustrated paperback about the strange sea creatures that lived deep in the ocean. I had taken it to bed with me, reading off and on in the dark with a small flashlight. If Dad had noticed the book, he likely would have laughed. Sea creatures? Not exactly what we expected to catch in the waters of Western Pennsylvania’s Sandy Lake.

It was my first fishing trip. I was about eight years old. It would take about an hour to get there by car, an hour that would feel like all morning.

I remember the trip so vividly for a few reasons. Fishing seemed like an amazing, grown-up adventure and although I wouldn’t be catching an octopus or some other ocean monster, it was close enough. And although Dad and I had spent a lot of time together lately–he helped coach my T-ball team–it was the first time we had gone on a trip together, just the two of us. One hour in the car together; Dad and me.

We took the green, 1961 Chevy Impala. The vinyl seats stuck to the bare legs hanging from my khaki shorts. I remember the low morning sun streaming through the windshield, stinging my eyes. I can still see Dad’s cap, the white cotton golf hat he wore each day when I was young, the one with the blue and green band around its brim. And I can see his hands on the steering wheel, thick, big-man hands, the calloused digits of a man who worked with wood and repaired his own cars. I don’t remember much about the fishing, can’t even recall if we pulled anything out of the lake. But I remember the drive like it was yesterday, that special early morning road trip.

I didn’t know it then, but now I see the impact of that short journey. I believe it subtlety solidified my budding adulation of my father, a respect I would disregard when I reached my teenage years, an admiration I would misplace when I graduated from college and was struggling to make my own way, and would only come into focus again when my first son was born and I took him on his first fishing trip. It was the 60-minutes in the car with my dad that mattered that late spring day, the moments of silence, the shared smiles, the sparse but pointed talk about baseball, what we’d eat for lunch, and what is was going to be like to twist a nightcrawler onto a steel hook.

I never became much of a fisherman, neither did my son, but it doesn’t matter. The road trips to those clean, cool waters are what have outlasted any anticipation or excitement of snagging a lake trout.  

The power of a road trip, whether it’s by car, train, horseback, or raft is embedded in American life. It’s in our make-up. Look at our literature: Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Kerouac’s On the Road. Then there are the movies: Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, Little Miss Sunshine. The list is long and varied. But the theme is essentially the same: the journey is the thing, the travel is what fascinates us and in the end, somehow changes us, awakens our lives.

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons (Dream of Things, 2014) started out as a single, 3000 word essay initialized entitled “Francis is on the Patio”–referring to a almost encounter with Francis Ford Coppola. It was about a 5000-mile road trip I took with my sons at a time when my life required a new direction and I was searching for a boost of the soul. But after a long-held family secret was revealed to me, the piece developed into the thread of a full-length memoir about fatherhood, a story discovered through each mile of that cross-country trip. It was the journey that fueled the reflection. It was the road trip itself that became the medicine of redemption and helped to restore the spirit.  

Yes, the book is my personal story. But I believe it resonates with so many others, not only because of the inevitable and shared connections between fathers and sons, parents and children, but also because we all love the American road trip. We fondly recall the ones of our past and we eagerly anticipate the ones in our future. Road trips are forever alluring for what they help us discover, a bit of ourselves.

Thank you David Berner for an entertaining guest post! Also, thank you to WOW -Women on Writing for providing this stop on David's tour. For more information and more blog stops, please check out:

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, Any Road Will Take You There is honest, unflinching, and tender. 
In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip -- the one he always wished he'd taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story -- Jack Kerouac's On the Road -- and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit. 

However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Dream of Things (September 23, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0988439096
ISBN-13: 978-0988439092

Twitter hashtag: # AnyRoadBook

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons  is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon 
About the AuthorDavid W. Berner-the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE-was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE is the author's story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read."
David can be found online at:
Twitter:  @davidwberner
Twitter:  @anyroadbook

Monday, November 17, 2014

How to Decide What to Write About and What to Omit ...

Welcome Linda Appleman Shapiro, author of She's Not Herself, A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness. In her guest post, Linda shares with us a writing tip that makes all the difference when it comes to storytelling whether it's in fiction or in a memoir.


How to decide what to write about and what to omit in order to create a flow vs. an overflow of information

by Linda Appleman Shapiro

Whatever the genre, authors have to make choices at every turn about what to keep and what to omit; what word to choose and what word to change; what detracts from the basic story line and what adds color and fleshes it out. Depending on how attached we are to words and actions, we can spend hours on choosing just the right word to convey just the right thought or mood.
Fiction or memoir, each has characters and a story line. Just as novels have narrative arcs, so, too, do memoirs. In fictional stories the arc usually refers to a chronological construction of a plot, leading to an ultimate resolution. It’s not very different with memoirs. Both are stories, but one is created from whole cloth and the other examines, explores and shares memories from a particular life experience, with the driving force being the need to revisit it, re-member it and write about it.  
To start, I think authors are more apt to write much more than is kept in the finished book. Not unlike a conversation where you wished you hadn’t gone on and on about telling a friend about something that happened and you know that you could have shared the experience with far fewer words and conveyed what you wanted the person to know without being boring or going off on tangents that your friend didn’t in the first place need to know about and in the end only weakened the impact of what you wished to convey . . .  so it is with writing (as you can see from the paragraph you’ve just read).

I can spill my guts and create dramatic scenes, but the bottom line is whether I am serving the reader’s experience. In telling my truth about any given moment or relationship, one needs not tell everything to engage the reader.

What to tell, what to streamline in the telling and how to create an easy flow for the reader is much like an artist who’s painting a pastoral scene of the cool but sunny days of autumn. Drawing outlines of every leaf, coloring each one perfectly, might be less effective than delicately dabbing reds, oranges and golds for a sense of the scene, which is completed in the viewers mind. Leaving some things to the reader’s imagination and focusing on what’s most important to the artistic vision is, to my way of thinking, far more effective.

So, too, in creating a story or sharing your memories, not everything will be important to the reader. You don’t want to hammer home your truth, your vision … you want to create a theme with characters that have a full range of emotional responses and reactions but not necessarily ones where we need to know about every breath they take, every person they meet, every pleasure or disappointment they experience. We need to know just enough to feel that the author has brought people/characters into our lives in a story we never heard before but one that has an implicit universality that touches us and perhaps teaches us but never bores us. 

So, to answer the question I’d say that the litmus test is to know – once you’ve written your first drafts and have written too much – what you can then omit so as not to lose your audience but to embrace them more fully, with less ego and more humanity.

Thank you, Linda Appleman Shapiro, for a wonderful and informative post! Also, much thanks to WOW -Women On Writing for providing this stop on Linda's blog tour. Please check out their website for more information and more blog tour stops!

She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Linda Appleman Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself--and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.
On the surface, her childhood seemed normal--even idyllic. Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda Appleman Shapiro was told, "Your mother...she's not herself today." Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill. 
Paperback: 249Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dream of Things (September 2, 2014)

Twitter hashtag: #SNHerselfShapiro
She's Not Herself A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon and is available through, Dream of and several other on-line book sites listed on Goodreads.
About the Author
Behavioral psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor/ Oral Historian/ Mental Health Advocate and author, Linda Appleman Shapiro earned her B.A. in literature from Bennington College, a Master's degree in Human Development/Counseling from the Bank Street College of Education, and a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from the New York Institute of N.L.P. She has further certifications in Ericksonian Hypnosis and Substance Abuse/Addictions Counseling.
Linda Appleman Shapiro is a contributing author in the casebook, “Leaves Before the Wind: Leading Applications of N.L.P.”
In private practice for more than thirty years, Shapiro also served as a senior staff member at an out-patient facility for addicts and their families. As an oral historian, she has documented the lives of many of New York's elderly.
Her first memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, was self-published in 2007 and named Finalist in the Indie Next Generation Book Awards in 2008Her blog of three years, “A Psychotherapist's Journey,”  named Shapiro Top Blogger in the field of mental health by WELLsphere.
Married to actor and audiobook narrator George Guidall, Linda Appleman Shapiro and her husband live in Westchester County, New York. They have two adult daughters and two grandchildren.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Humor: Five Funnies for Friday!

Book nerds unite and get your funny on! Here's five funnies for Friday .. say that five times fast and Enjoy!

Oh! The horror of it all! SMBC (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) daily strip © Zach Weiner via his site & shop, ...  Respect people, respect copyright.  The law requires that you credit the artist. List/Link directly to artist's website.  HOW TO FIND the ORIGINAL WEB SITE of an image:  PINTEREST on COPYRIGHT:  The Golden Rule:

The Passive Aggressive Raven...

Family Circus: "Books are better than TV.  If you fall asleep while reading, you don't miss the ending."

Literary selfies.

And, finally ...

This is so funny becuz Shel Silverstein wrote a poem book called "Where the Sidewalk Ends"!!! Haha made me lol

Hope I made you laugh (or least smile)!

For an extra funny, see my last post on my Facebook page,

And, for bonus points, check out


Friday, November 7, 2014

Welcome Jerry Waxler with a Guest Post on a "Memoir Revolution"

Welcome Jerry Waxler, author of Memoir Revolution! So, what is a memoir revolution and why did Jerry Waxler name his book after it? Read on to find out!

Why did you call it Memoir Revolution?

By Jerry Waxler

When I entered college in 1965, life was going to be simple. I intended to become a doctor and looked forward to a normal future. Within a few weeks of my arrival in Madison, Wisconsin, I saw my first anti-war picket signs. No one knew at that time that this was an early warning that cultural upheaval was brewing on the horizon. By the time I left college, I had been knocked thoroughly off course. It took me years to recover. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by social trends and am always on the lookout for others that might affect us collectively, and shift our thinking in new directions. In the early 2000s, I noticed a subtle trend that I believe has far-reaching ramifications, perhaps as big as the wave in the 60s that almost drowned me.

I observed that many people showing up in writing groups were attempting to explore the stories of their lives. In order to do so, they needed to share their secrets. At the same time, on television and through social media, we were collectively shifting our definition of what ought to remain private versus what would be shared with the world. By exposing more of our private thoughts in public, our stories about ourselves were becoming more intimate and authentic.

At first, I was a curious bystander, watching this trend from a distance. I had always been shy, hated talking about myself, and had no intention of revealing anything more about myself than I absolutely had to.

However, as a therapist and self-help fan, I have always admired methods that could help people grow. And during therapy, I had come to believe that finding one’s own story is a valuable tool for self-development. Perhaps by searching for my own story, I could overcome my shyness and participate in the social free-for-all of the Internet.

To investigate the possibility of joining the wave, I took memoir classes, read books about how to write memoirs, and loaded my bookshelves with stories about other people. By learning to shape my memories, and construct them into the organized container of a story, I was turning unintelligible fragments of my own life into a coherent whole.

During this period of research, I noticed a strange thing. Year after year, the trend kept growing. Increasing numbers of people showed up at classes, more people were blogging about it, and an incredible number of people were attempting to turn life into stories. And even more exciting for me, was the realization that the phenomenon was building on itself. Popular memoirs were giving increasing numbers of us permission to find our own stories. If each successful memoir by an ordinary person gave thousands of other people permission to find their own stories, the trend would go viral.

I first became aware of the contagion of memoirs one Sunday morning when I was giving a talk at a study group in a church. I was explaining that the Memoir Revolution had given people permission to open up. “For example,” I said, “many of us have experiences in childhood that are covered over by secrecy. We have been silenced by shame, or the rules of the family, or fear of looking bad.” A middle-aged woman in the back row raised her hand and said, “You mean it’s alright for me to share what happened to me in my childhood?” I said “yes,” and she began to cry. I could feel her emotional relief, even though she had not said a single word about what she had been hiding.

In another group, this one a writing workshop, a woman said, “You mean if I share something about myself that I’ve never told another person, it will give me permission to open up?” I said “yes,” and she said, “My husband killed himself and I’ve never been able to talk about it.” Every single person in that room turned toward her, eyes filled with compassion.

Such events have always been part of our lives, but without language to communicate them, we remained silent. Now, in memoirs, we are shaping the ups and downs of life into the socially acceptable container of stories.

Stories have been used since the dawn of civilization to help people make sense of their trials and tribulations, but through those millennia, most of our emphasis has been on fiction. In fiction, larger-than-life heroes and villains undergo exaggerated circumstances to reach convenient ends. The Memoir Revolution has allowed us to repurpose this story-form in a way that lets us make sense of the every day life of ordinary people.

When unpleasant things happen in life, we attempt to be brave, and look at the half-full glass. Another tool that is just as important as positive thinking is our ability to band together, to reach to each other for support and compassion. By opening up our secrets, and turning them into interesting stories, we have exponentially increased our opportunities to understand ourselves and support each other.

The Memoir Revolution doesn’t rely on tie-dye clothes, bell bottoms, marijuana. And it doesn’t rely on being young, or rebelling against the status quo. But in its potential to tear down the walls between people, and to provide us with a new way of understanding ourselves and each other, this period has the potential to be every bit as invigorating and stimulating as the earlier one.

To join this revolution, you don’t have to drop out, smoke dope, or march in protests. You just have to start writing anecdotes, and in the company of millions of other aspiring writers, attempt to shape those experiences into a compelling story.

Memoir Revolution is Jerry Waxler’s beautifully written story as he integrates it with his deep and abiding knowledge and passion for story. In the 1960s, Jerry Waxler, along with millions of his peers, attempted to find truth by rebelling against everything. After a lifetime of learning about himself and the world, he now finds himself in the middle of another social revolution. In the twenty-first century, increasing numbers of us are searching for truth by finding our stories. In Memoir Revolution, Waxler shows how memoirs link us to the ancient, pervasive system of thought called The Story. By translating our lives into this form, we reveal the meaning and purpose that eludes us when we view ourselves through the lens of memory. And when we share these stories, we create mutual understanding, as well. By exploring the cultural roots of this literary trend, based on an extensive list of memoirs and other book, Waxler makes the Memoir Revolution seem like an inevitable answer to questions about our psychological, social and spiritual well-being. 

Paperback: 190Pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Neuralcoach Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)

ISBN-10: 0977189538
Twitter hashtag: #MRevolutionWaxler
Memoir Revolution is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.
About the Author: Jerry Waxler teaches memoir writing at Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, PA, online, and around the country. His Memory Writers Network blog offers hundreds of essays, reviews, and interviews about reading and writing memoirs. He is on the board of the Philadelphia Writer's Conference and National Association of Memoir Writers and holds a BA in Physics and an MS in Counseling Psychology.


Blog hostess, Audry Fryer, is the author of two novels and a short story available for Kindle and Nook. To learn more, check out her wildly interesting website at: