interviewed by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Today our guest visitor is Linda Wisniewski.
Linda is our first non-fiction author. Her book OFF KILTER is a memoir about growing up, my favorite subject. I write YA novels after all.
In her post today Linda talks about how her book came to be and got published.
If you have any question for Linda, please leave a comment below.
My memoir, Off Kilter, grew out of a little essay I placed in a literary magazine called Mindprints. To my great surprise and joy, the editor nominated it for a Pushcart Prize, and one of my writing mentors advised me to expand it into a book. My theme used my scoliosis, or spinal curve, as a metaphor for the twists and turns of a life that did not “fit,” a life of conformity to a church and culture of abuse and suffering. I wanted to describe my journey away from all that and toward the peace of an authentic life. I gathered the memoir pieces I had been writing around that common theme, connected them, and added chapters to flesh out the main message I wanted to convey: we create our own happiness.
Many writers have taken that same journey. Among my favorites are May Karr’s The Liars’ Club, Dani Shapiro’s Devotion and Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey. I think anyone who has struggled with feeling “different” will relate to my story.
My publisher, Peggy Elam of Pearlsong Press, designed the book cover and the layout, using a picture my son took of me from the back, showing my scoliosis or spinal curve. I am standing on a curved pathway to reinforce the emotional journey metaphor in a visual manner
Off Kilter is a trade paperback and is also available as an e-book for Kindle, Mobipocket and PDF.
When my book was ready, I sought out publishers who had brought out women’s memoirs I liked. Once a week, I sent out a package with their submission requirements, whether a summary, sample chapters, outline, etc. Number thirteen was my lucky number: Pearlsong Press offered me a contract.
Since the book came out in 2008, I’ve done a blog tour, library talks, and bookstore signings, and posted on relevant blogs as well as written my own, lindawisniewski.blogspot.com. I teach memoir writing at a community college, senior centers, and writers’ conferences, and use excerpts from my book among the examples in class. Often, students want to purchase a signed copy. My publisher also sends me opportunities she comes across for radio and online interviews.
For anyone with a book ready to pitch, I’d say first, make it as good as you possibly can. Show it to someone whose opinion you trust, not a friend or relative. When you get a few opinions that it’s publishable, look for agents and/or publishers of books similar to yours in theme, audience and subject matter. And follow their submission guidelines to the letter! And finally, to memoir writers, don’t be afraid to put your personal story out there. True stories connect us and help us understand each other. What could be better than that?
Linda C.Wisniewski lives and writes in Bucks County, PA. She is a reporter for the Bucks County Herald, and also writes columns on women authors for the Bucks County Women’s Journal and the Mohawk Valley Independent. Linda teaches memoir workshops at retirement centers and writers’ conferences. Her work has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Rose and Thorn, Metropolis, and other venues both print and online. Visit her website at www.lindawis.com.