Monday, July 13, 2015

Michigander Monday Guest Post: Mardi Jo Link

I'm thrilled to have Mardi Jo Link as a guest blogger today.  Mardi has previously been here for a standard Michigander Monday interview (click here to read that), and she's back today with a guest post about her new book, The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance, which hits the shelves this Tuesday (July 14).  Here's Mardi!

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Do I Dare? The Perils & Joys of Writing About My Best Friends

by Mardi Jo Link

It’s the memoirist’s ever-present dilemma: How do I write about the people I love (or once loved), without turning them into caricatures? Without using them for the page, and damaging our real life relationship?

I managed to find my way through that quandary with my first memoir, Bootstrapper (Knopf, 2013), the writing of which presented all sorts of ethical dilemmas. I wrote about my sons, who were young; I wrote about my parents, who are from a generation which eschews excessive sharing; and I even wrote about my ex-husband, who never signed up for having our split chronicled in a book. (Certainly not one with a big red axe on the cover!)
I did it by having two mantras, which I recited every morning before I even put my fingers on the keys: 1. Write the story only you can write; the one that belongs to you and to no one else; and 2. Write with love; if not with love for the person, than with love for the truth.

“Yes but when are you going to write our story?” my best friends asked me, a few months after Bootstrapper was published.

There were eight of us; we’d known each other for a quarter century, and our annual wild-woman trips to a remote island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula had bonded us for life. We even had a name for ourselves, The Drummond Girls, in honor of the island where we’d let loose.

So I knew we had a story; I just hadn’t thought our story was available for me to write.  

Writers can’t help but consider just about everything we see and do as “material.” That’s just how our brains work, whether we write fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

My first trip to Drummond Island with the girls was 1993. From then till now I’ve had four books published, received my masters’ degree in creative writing, become a newspaper columnist, and even taught writing to other writers. And through it all I went to the island every fall with my girlfriends.

It was the one place I turned my writer’s brain off. Or, at least tried to.

Our weekends to me were life, not writing about life. Until they asked me to write our story.

I thought about my two writers’ mantras and knew the first one wasn’t going to work. We had eight stories and only one of them belonged to me. I tried to explain that to my friends but they wouldn’t hear it.

“Then just write yours,” they said.

Which was when I considered mantra two: Write with love; if not with love for the person, than with love for the truth. And, I revised it down to simply, Write with love. And over the next two years, that’s exactly what I did.

The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance is a memoir being published on July 14, 2015, by an imprint of a big New York publisher. It has received early praise from Kirkus, BookPage, Library Journal and the Detroit Free Press, among other places.

Which is nice. What it really is though, is a love letter to my best friends. That’s how writers tell you we love you. We write about you.

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To read an excerpt from Mardi's new book, click here.  And find her upcoming events at her web site.  Thank you for the guest post, Mardi!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Free bookmarks for classrooms and other places where readers hang out

2019 UPDATE TO THIS POST FROM 2015I've been giving out free bookmarks on my web site for years (as discussed in this blog post), and I usually sent out a few mailings a month.  A few months ago, my offer somehow got picked up by an online aggregator and posted to multiple freebie web sites.  This resulted in hundreds and hundreds of bookmark requests in a very short period of time.  While I was delighted by the interest in books and reading, it did require a lot of my time to tend to all the requests.  After two months of responding to the requests, which I think (hope) I'm now caught up on, I've decided to end the free bookmarks offer for the time being.  Thank you for your understanding.  Check my web site periodically for updates.  --Debbie

In our area, the school year ended less than a month ago, so I'm definitely not in back-to-school mode yet. But I know some schools get rolling in early August, so I wanted to mention to those of you who are teachers that I have some bookmarks I'd be happy to send your way for your students for back-to-school.

I have two bookmark designs especially for classrooms.  One features Mr. Fish and quotes the reassuring theme of The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School (illustrated by Dan Hanna):

You are smart.
You can get it.
You belong.
Don't forget it!

The other design features the cover of Picture Day Perfection (illustrated by Dan Santat) and gives a bit of reading encouragement:

Books help us picture life's possibilities, so read lots of them!

Those two bookmarks, with their emphasis on learning and reading, work well in the classroom, especially on the milestones of First Day and of Picture Day.

In addition, I have some holiday-themed bookmarks, to go along with the forthcoming The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish.  The message on that bookmark echoes the book's conclusion:

Peace, joy, and love -- what a very merry gift!

The bookmarks are sized 2" x 6". The back of each bookmark has a list of my other books.

If you're interested in some bookmarks for your classroom, I'd love to send some your way.

Those of you who are booksellers or librarians, I'm happy to send bookmarks for a story time or a display.

And I'm always happy to send bookmarks to anyone who would like some for their own use or to share with friends.

If you'd like some bookmarks, please email me (deborah [at] deborahdiesen [dot] com). Let me know which style(s) you'd like, how many, your mailing address, and when you will need them by.  [NOTE :  I will be traveling quite a bit during November 2015. Because of this, my response time to emails in November and early December will be delayed.  My apologies!  But I’ll reply as soon as I can.  Thank you for your patience.]

I generally sign the bookmarks before sending, but if you'd prefer I leave the signing spot blank so you can write your own message there, let me know that and I'll skip the signing.

I'll take this post down once I run out of bookmarks, but until then, I've got plenty.

Thank you for sharing the joy of books and reading -- and the fun of bookmarks!