Archive for the ‘Memoir Writing’ Category

03.23.10

THE “IMPERFECT” MOTHER

Posted in Family and Friends, Memoir Writing, Motherhood at 08:00 am by admin

It seems that most of the book clubs I have spoken to are made up of women in their 30’s to 40’s. Most are young mothers and I recall that when I was their age, I was always reading about motherhood, asking questions, and looking for any kind of information that would help me be a better mother.

In writing my memoir “Divine Betrayal” it became evident that my mother was not the ideal model for anyone. Mother’s mission was to serve Jesus and my father, as a mother she made sure that we did not stray from the teachings of the Bible. She read the Bible to us daily, and watched everything we did to make sure we didn’t sin. That was her duty. I always felt loved by Mother, but she was extra strict with my sister Dorothy, which was confusing to me. Not only did their personalities clash, but Dorothy was outgoing and friendly to everyone, she had an amazing sense of humor. Mother was sure that she was evil—she carried the “sins of her fathers.” Dorothy had been adopted, her birthmother had had her out of wedlock. When I became a mother I was sure that I did not want to be like my mother.

My teenage years were very restricted. I was often embarrassed and angry that (more…)

03.16.10

THE “PERFECT” WIFE

Posted in Family and Friends, Memoir Writing, Motherhood at 08:00 am by admin

A frequent question I am asked at book clubs is “What kind of influence did your mother have on your adult life, for instance, what kind of wife were you?”

As I describe in my memoir Divine Betrayal, my mother did her best to become the “perfect wife” for my father. She lived to serve Jesus and she believed she could do this by being the “perfect” helpmate to her husband, the Reverend John Peter Kolenda.

For her this meant complete self-denial, long suffering, working day and night—she was totally enmeshed in my father’s work, and strove to become (more…)

03.08.10

Culture Shock—Coming to America

Posted in Brazilian Culture, Memoir Writing at 03:21 pm by admin

I was at a discussion group a few days ago, and one of the participants said: “Poor people of the world are suffering, their lives are miserable, and we must do all we can to help them find happiness.” I spent a lot of time thinking about this and I am perplexed and disturbed by this typical American point of view. Here is my opinion:

I disagree that all poor people are “suffering and miserable.”  Yes, I am sure all poor people would love to have their situations improved, but I promise you that an improved situation does not (more…)

11.18.09

Missionary Kids Unite

Posted in Family and Friends, Memoir Writing at 05:07 pm by admin

In the past three months I have received several e-mails and letters from Missionary Kids and Preacher Kids, who are now grown up and on their own.

The messages of their letters were very similar. First, they enjoyed reading Divine Betrayal, and were able to identify with my story. Second, MK’s and PK’s felt that I was very courageous to have written my story and several wished they could do the same but still were unable to handle the criticism, mainly from family and friends who were still intolerant fundamentalists. And all of these MK’s and PK’s asked me not to give their names, as most everyone they were close to did not know their true feelings and adult religious beliefs.

This made me feel very sad but I also understand where they are coming from. As an MK (or PK), we are under a lot of pressure to conform to the establishment, to think like our parents and the church—no exceptions.

Near the end of writing Divine Betrayal, I had to stop (more…)

11.14.09

An Unhappy Writer

Posted in Memoir Writing at 05:03 pm by admin

A few days ago I attended a social gathering in our village. A gentleman who is also a writer, he has not yet published a book but dreams of someday becoming a known author, approached me. His comment was: “How is your book selling?”

I answered: “Very well, thank you, sales are slowing down a little now and I know I have to get out and do some more promotions.”

His reply was: “Do you mean that all your relatives have their copy and there is no one else who wants it?”

My answer was: “No, I have not sold one copy to any of my relatives, and I sent four free copies to cousins, who completely rejected my book.” He smiled, as if he did not believe me and walked away.

How do I interpret his comments? It hurt me at first, I even became angry at his sarcasm, but then had to remind myself that maybe he was experiencing some jealousy in the fact that I am published and I am sure he has heard the positive remarks about Divine Betrayal from mutual friends. This must cause some pain for him. I was able to quickly get over my anger.

11.11.09

Unkonwn Authors Must Overcome Rejection

Posted in Memoir Writing at 05:01 pm by admin

I spent 5 years writing Divine Betrayal and like anyone who has written a novel or memoir, it was a very emotional experience and hard work. When finished, I was absolutely sure I had a marketable book and sent a very professional “query letter” and “Book Proposal” to 60 agents. The book proposal gave a sample of each chapter, description of the book, my biography, a comparison of similar books in this genre, and our marketing plan.

I heard back from 40 of the 60 agents. A few responses were form letters rejecting my story, but the majority liked what they saw. Several said Divine Betrayal “is well written,” “very interesting,” and that they wished they could represent me to publishers. However, they expressed the problem in that “No publisher today will take on a memoir or autobiography of a person who is not famous.”

The competition is fierce and the market is flooded with interesting life stories of famous people: movie stars, politicians, famous doctors, adventurers, etc…. And so I had to accept that no big publishing company was going to publish Divine Betrayal. This is when I decided to publish independently. However the rejections did hurt and hurt plenty. I had to deal with keeping a positive attitude and believing in my story.

I am glad we decided to self publish now. This gives us more control of the final product: the cover, the editing (which can sometimes change a manuscript dramatically—yes, even to memoirs), and of course even with a New York publishing house, we as authors are still responsible for the promotion of our own books. So, if I have to work so hard, why not reap the rewards? The only thing that remains a stumbling block for many self-published authors is the lack of distribution.  So, the saga continues. Sales are steady, but we are always looking for new ways to meet our market, to get the word out and to, well, sell books. Any ideas? I’d love to hear from you.

Warmly,

Graceann

10.22.09

Negative Family Comments for Divine Betrayal

Posted in Memoir Writing at 08:00 am by admin

This is a rather emotional subject for me, then again my entire memoir is emotional.  I’ve laid myself out there for all the world to see, and in so doing my family is less than thrilled.  Most people don’t willing air their dirty laundry.  I think that is one of the most difficult aspects of writing a memoir.  I have spoken with many people who have a story to tell but would never write it as memoir because it might embarrass or hurt someone they love.  Truthfully, my story doesn’t hurt or slander anyone, it simply reminds—it brings up sensitive subjects that some people would have rather buried—like the subject of child molestation for instance.

My book is getting some back-lash, it’s true.

About the only negative comments about Divine Betrayal have been from my relatives, on my father’s side, and also from very strict fundamentalist born-again Christians. This has surprised me. I thought that my relatives would accept my story, and would be interested to hear what it was like growing up in a strange land as the daughter of a missionary preacher. But the only explanation I have for their rejection is that they had a preconceived notion of what it was like for my sister Dorothy and I growing up as daughters of a wonderful man, my father, John Peter Kolenda. I also believe they disapprove of the fact that we both rejected my father’s religion, which is their religion.

Interestingly enough, no one wants to outright talk about this or my memoir, they give me hints of disapproval, aside from one cousin who e-mailed me the comment: “I think what you are doing is sick.”

I have been told that writing my memoir was brave.  I guess I never understood that, for me, I was just writing my story—what’s so brave about that? The truth is, my story is mine and mine alone—my memories, me perception of a time long ago, my memories.  These are different than those of my family, and for that reason, I think it’s tough for people (my father’s family) to read this story and accept that my life was in fact not perfect: I experienced and witnessed death, molestation, poverty, and hardship.  These experiences made my life richer and fuller, I would not change them for anything.

Do you have a story?  Please send me your comments. I would appreciated any comments you may have.

Graceann Deters, Author of Divine Betrayal, An Inspirational Story of Love, Rebellion, and Redemption

04.19.09

Part I – Writing Your Memoir

Posted in Memoir Writing at 09:06 am by admin

 GETTING STARTED

Five years ago, I had no idea what writing my memoir, Divine Betrayal, would mean to me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t set out to write a book at first.  My daughters had asked me to write down some of the stories I told them, such as the death of my little lamb Becky and the beheading at the marketplace.  I thought I would jot down a few of these stories and have about ten pages. But once I started, I couldn’t stop and 100 pages later my stories still came, flowing like an uncontrollable rushing river.

 THE COST—-COUNT IT!

Unfortunately for my sleep schedule, most of this happened in the middle of the night, when everything was quiet and my mind could focus. I had no problem getting to sleep, but it seemed that about 1:00 or 2:00 A.M. I would wake up, and become extremely alert.  My thoughts would invariably go to what I was writing about that day.  I kept a writing pad and pen next to my bed, and often started writing things down in order not to forget what came up during the night. 

One vivid example of this was when my ghost writer asked me who was Vadica, and she wanted to know more about her.  I told Jeannine that I couldn’t remember much about Vadica and in all of mother’s letters her name was never mentioned.  During the night it came to me why mother never wrote about Vadica.  We were poor missionaries, supported by the friends and family in America and it might have been difficult for them to accept the fact that mother had a “maid.”  Yet Vadica was a very important part of our life in the first six years in Brazil.  As I started to think of Vadica, I could not stop.  I remembered what she looked like, how hard she worked, her bubbly personality, her great stories, and how much I loved her.  I had no idea that Vadica played such an important role in our lives.  We never talked about her when we were in America.

So whenever I needed to actively find a memory I thought was lost, it would appear when I was rested, and in the middle of the night.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to come up from somewhere deep inside.  Sometimes I felt sad with some memories, and in the quiet of the night it seemed easier to get in touch with my feeling, and tears flowed for seemingly no reason.  But writing a memoir was very cathartic and healing for me.  I found that the more I delved into deep memories, the more emotional healing took place, so the physical and emotional demands on me were ultimately worthwhile.

There were spiritual challenges and rewards, too. Writing down the memories of my teenage years was especially difficult for me. During those years, I was questioning the beliefs of my parents and the church. How would it affect others if I told the truth? I knew that if I shared my true feelings, the present day church members (including my relatives) might criticize and reject my story, or even deny the facts.  In a fundamentalist organization there is no room for doubt, or questioning of any doctrine or strict rules I had to live by in the Brazilian church.  (more…)


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