What is the Gist of Your Story? #8

A sound premise and compelling themes are undoubtedly the hallmarks of great writing. In another addition to the SERIES on literary themes and premise, I’d like you to join me in welcoming Susan Weidener. Ways to connect with her are: Facebook, Twitter, and her website: Women’s Writing Circle.

Susan’s bio

A former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Susan is the author of two memoirs: Again In a Heartbeat and its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square. In 2009 Susan  started the Women's Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. She organizes and facilitates writing workshops with an emphasis on how writing can lead to healing, self-discovery and empowerment. In that vein, the Women’s Writing Circle is self-publishing in April an anthology called Slants of Light and women will take their message of writing and finding voice to the community. Susan is also working on her first novel about a couple in their mid-50s whose illusions have fallen away, yet find romance and love when they least expect it.

Susan on her memoirs

I wrote Again in a Heartbeat thirteen years after my husband’s death. Illness impacts an entire family, and I wanted to write about meeting the man of my dreams, as well as what John and I went through before and after the cancer diagnosis; confronting the end of the happy-ever-after dream.

After his death, my life was defined not just by “widowed,” but as single woman and mother. I knew I needed to write about that journey because I felt many people would identify with being on their own and wondering where to go from here. So that’s how Morning at Wellington Square came about. It is about reinvention and renewal following loss.

The premise of Again in a Heartbeat

When you lose the love of your life, you confront the pain of moving beyond dreams of happily ever-after. For me, it meant the impersonal and often scary world of online dating and being on your own. Along the way, I discovered a lesson I’d like to share with others . . . long after a person you loved dies, his memory lives on in your heart and gives you the strength to carry on. But the strength comes from you, too. It has to or you are lost.

The premise of Morning at Wellington Square

After the death of a loved one, you face loss, grief, loneliness and feelings of isolation. These are the seeds of writing our stories in the truest and most personal sense of the word.Often, the result of going through this trauma serves as a catalyst for taking risks and seeking renewal.

Themes

Love, illness, loss, grief, loneliness, feelings of isolation, taking risks to seek renewal.

Remember, effective book publicity relies on strong promotional messages, which are extracted from the themes contained in your writing that, collectively, make up the premise of the story. 

Promotional opportunities for Susan’s books

50Plus Seniors News, a monthly magazine here in the Philadelphia area geared toward Baby Boomers and women entrepreneurs, is featuring me on their cover in July.  Connecting in new and meaningful ways with the work we love . . . which for me is writing.

  • Libraries, rotary clubs, and colleges are seeking speakers and authors. My talks center around how memoir is both a healing journey and one of self-discovery, which I find exciting and fulfilling.
  • Publishing a memoir is like throwing a rock in a pond and experiencing an unending ripple effect. The local library has asked me to join in and help organize a panel discussion of local women authors in the community.
  • Since I wrote a sequel, people are interested in purchasing both my books.
  • Look for the unusual venue for book signings.  Recently, I held two signings at our local Curves for women gym and sold dozens of copies of  my memoirs.
  • I began self-publishing in 2010. I am often asked to speak at libraries and writing groups about the changing nature of publishing, the excitement of being an entrepreneur and how to build an author platform and connect through social media.
  • I facilitate writing workshops through the Women’s Writing Circle which draws from a diverse audience in suburban Philadelphia.  Bringing in outside speakers and teachers is a way to inspire and educate all of us.
  • On my blog, I feature writers and authors whose work is honest, caring, brave and strong.  We have close to 3,000 views a month. My blog includes links to ordering my books.
  • Downside: I have not been successful in connecting with cancer support groups.  This has been disappointing, but I continue to try and make connections here in the community and through social media, not just with wellness and support groups, but widow and widowers groups, as well.  Any help I can receive, suggestions or input would be most appreciated!

Join me as I discuss the need for compelling themes and a sound premise with published and newbie authors over the next few months. If you want to participate as a guest blogger in this series, please do not hesitate to contact me for details. You can also participate by leaving a comment for Susan below.