Category Archives: Events

Genres of Literature – Biography


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A biography, commonly known as a bio, is defined as a detailed description of a person’s life. Rather than dealing with the basic facts of the subject’s life like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person’s experience with life events, presenting a subject’s life story, with highlights of various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may even include an analysis of the subject’s personality.

Biography’s are usually non-fiction in nature but fiction can sometimes be used to portray the subject’s life. One form of biographical coverage is called legacy writing that deals with in-depth research. 

At first, biographical writings were merely a subsection of history focusing on a particular individual of historical importance. The independent genre of biography began emerging in the 18th century reaching its contemporary form at the turn of the 20th century. Biographical research as defined by Miller is a research method of collecting and analyzing a person’s whole life, or on occasion a portion of their life. This is accomplished through the in-depth and unstructured interviews, or even by semi-structured interview or personal documents. In short the research can come from “oral history, personal narrative, biography and autobiography” or “diaries, letters, memoranda and other materials.

There are two types of biography:

  1. Authorized biography which is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subject’s heirs.
  2. An autobiography which is written by the person himself or herself, sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.

The idea of writing our own biography is a daunting one for most of us and knowing where and how to start can be the main stumbling block for many. What to put in and what to leave out!

With other members of my writing group, I helped produce a memoir writing guide, which gives pointers on how to collect and compile artifacts, photos, letters etc. into a themed collection enabling you to format and theme your memoir/biography.

YourLifetimeOfStories

http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/fp/your-lifetime-stories

The practical suggestions included in the pages of this book will suggest to you ways you can identify, record, and organize your collection of memories so you can begin to write your stories. It is not a how to write but a how to begin workbook. 

Have you thought of writing your biography?

What would the title be?

 

Author Interview – Lorna Schultz Nicholson


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

In all honesty, it does a bit of both.  I get so energized from the thinking, creating and writing.  But the mind is a funny thing and once I/we (my editor and me) are down to the nitty-gritty edits, it starts shifting towards my next project.  Ideas start popping up and I have to hold them down. This is often the time when I also wake up in the night and think…I made a mistake and then I lose sleep over that one mistake.  Often I get up in the night and make the change, then I can’t go back to sleep.  Does this make any sense?

But writing does give me charge.

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?   I want to say my dog because he is always wanting to go for walks but then when I walk I get energized and my mind frees a bit and thoughts come through.  So that isn’t really true and I don’t want to blame him anyway, he’s too good a dog.  Well sometimes.  I know that coffee and chocolate are my reverse Kryptonite’s.  Maybe being with friends?

3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I haven’t really thought about that.  Right now there is no need for me to do that.

4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have tons of author friends.  I dog walk with Karen Spafford-Fitz and Debby Waldman and I eat dessert or talk about eating dessert with Natasha Deen.  I get together with Sharon Jennings, Karen Bass and so many others when I’m in Toronto.  They all help me because they write such amazing books and reading their books makes me better.  And talking about plot problems, character problems or even publishing problems is really helpful. 

5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I have done both.  I have written series. In fact the 4th book in my One-2-One series has just been released and all the characters are connected through their high school Best Buddies group.  But I have also written stand-alones and have one pitched as I’m writing this.  No confirmation but it is pitched.  I also take on the odd non-fiction project.  I’m currently writing a 40th anniversary Oilers book which has been a huge project as I interviewed so many people.  Just different work. 

6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Years ago, I took a trip to the NWT and I paid out of my pocket but it was such a great trip and gave me insight into my characters and their landscape.  I went to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and it has stayed with me.  Years later I went back to the NWT with the TD book tour and loved it all over again.

7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I loved to read as a child and my mother really encouraged us to read.  I remember reading Anne of Green Gables and I loved Anne so much. The scene with Matthew and the puffed sleeves has stayed with me for years.  I also loved Trixie Beldon and wanted to be in the Bob Whites of the Glen.

8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

That is a super hard question because I don’t think any novel is under appreciated but I know what you are asking.  You know, I can’t answer this question if I’m honest.  I’m thinking and thinking and to me all the books I’ve read and loved are appreciated by me.  It’s a hard business and sometimes as a writer you wonder why your book doesn’t get this or that, why you don’t get foreign sales or front spots in Chapters, then you get an email from a reader who tells you how much it meant to them.  That means it was appreciated.

9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Wow, you ask really amazing questions.   But they are hard.  I’ve never thought about this but once I went to a shaman and he said perhaps I was a deer in a past life.  So maybe a deer.  Because sometimes I need to slow my work down, and fill the holes.  I’m a fast worker and I like to get to the end so it would be helpful to slow down every now and again BUT deer can get moving too when they have to and can they jump! 

10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Tons.  I have a few adult mysteries, an early reader, a middle grade reader and a couple of teen novels.  Boo hoo.  No one wanted them.  Oh, and I have a one-act play and a screenplay.

11. What does literary success look like to you?

This is something that keeps changing as I raise the bar for myself.  At first it was to get published. Then it was to get a second book published.  Then it was to try a non-fiction and a teen novel.  Now I want to maybe do a teen thriller, something completely different.  I would also love some foreign sales.  BUT…all that aside, what is important to literary success is the reader telling you they read your book and got something from your story.  I think in the end that will be my definition of literary success. 

12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a lot of research.  How long I spend depends on the book and what I know or don’t know about the subject matter.  I can research for months before starting a novel. 

13. How many hours a day/week do you write?

This really depends on my travel schedule.  I travel a lot, and do a lot of author visits to schools and sometimes this disrupts the writing.  When I’m home, at my desk, I can work 4-5 hours on a new project before I have to answer emails and questions like I’m doing now.  Lol. 

14. How do you select the names of your characters?

Names just come to me.  Although once I wrote an entire novel knowing I didn’t like the one character’s name and when I finished it and was doing my second draft I changed it.  And the name worked. 

15. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote a bullying scene in a novel titled Born With (One-2-One series) and it was hard to write because I know that it was mimicking reality and that made me sad.  My character getting bullied was gay.

16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write in many different genres because I’m always trying to improve my writing and challenge myself.  For instance, I’m writing this Oilers project which is non-fiction and I’m almost nearing the end – woo hoo- and I can’t wait to write a middle grade novel I signed a contract with Orca.  Did I tell you I can’t wait to go back to fiction???  So exciting. 

17. How long have you been writing?

Since I was little.  I took a break in high school to play sports and be a jock and in university to get a science degree.  But I did write a lot when I was young.

18. What inspires you?  

Everything and anything.  My mother wrote poetry and loved books so she is a huge inspiration to me.

19. How do you find or make time to write?

I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I call it procrastination.  I just make time to write because I can’t not write.  Even when I wasn’t published and was getting rejected and wanted to quit.  I just couldn’t not write.

20. What projects are you working on at the present?

I have my non-fiction Oilers book which will come out in the fall, and I’m currently doing photo captions for.  I will go back to my work as soon as I finish this questionnaire.  (Nice break.)  And I just had a teen novel A Time To Run: Stuart and Sam be launched, so I should do some media stuff and get my website updated.  I have a middle grade I’m going to write for Orca Currents in the spring and another hockey book in my Amazing Hockey Series.  

21. What do your plans for future projects include?

Not sure.  I’ve pitched a couple of teen novels and I’m playing around with a teen thriller.  Not sure where it will go.  It’s fun sometimes to play around. 

22. Share a link to your author website.

www.lornaschultznicholson.com  

lornasn on Instagram

Lorna Schultz Nicholson on facebook

Lornasn on twitter

Bio:  

 

Lorna Schultz Nicholson has published over thirty-six books, including picture books, middle grade fiction and non-fiction, adult non-fiction and YA fiction. (She is currently working on a 40th Anniversary Edmonton Oilers book.)  Many of her books have made the CCBC Best Books list, been Resource Links picks and been nominated for awards.  Her children’s books are about kids and their diversities and friendships and school and family life and emotions and feelings and… the ups and downs in life.  We all have those ups and downs, and we’re all different, which makes us all special.  Lorna lives in Edmonton with her hubbie and two dogs, a whiny Bichon Shih Tzu, and a naughty, hyper puppy she rescued from Mexico.   Well, he’s not a puppy anymore but she treats him like he is.  Over the years she has been a television co-host and reporter, radio host and reporter, theatre and murder mystery actor, fitness coordinator and rowing coach.  Now she is full-time writer. She travels to schools all across Canada to inspire children about her love of reading and writing, and she loves talking to adults about writing, and leading writing workshops.  She remembers her before-published days and wants to encourage writers to keep pursuing their dreams.  Being an author is a dream come true. 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


9781608636921

List a few phobias you have. When and how did you discover you had these?

rhino

My ‘phobia’s’ are rather bizarre to say the least. Firstly, as a child I had a recurring nightmare, which was so vivid I would wake with terrible stomach and back pain. The source was a rhino’s horn penetrating my body! In the dream I was at a fancy ‘garden’ party with marquees, waiters, lavish tables, musicians – the works. I was still young and attended with my parents. The setting was Africa on the boundary of the wilderness. (I was born in South Africa).

A rhino thundered towards the garden party scattering the guests in all directions, it also pierced through me as it exited the scene. I could feel the horn through my body and the jarring as the animal ran across the savanna. I could hear screams behind me as the guests realized my predicament. This is the moment I would wake up.

Many, many years later, when my daughter, a born animal whisper wanted to visit the rhino house at Longleat Safari Park, UK, I tried to get her to go on her own. Up to that point I couldn’t even look at a rhino photo images on the TV. She was insistent I went with her to stroke the animal. As we entered the rhino house my fear grew. My daughter went up to the rhino, who was leaning against the massive metal bars and patted it’s hide. She held my hand as I did the same. It’s hide is incredibly solid and rough and I was amazed at how it felt. This encounter lessened my childhood fear in a way I did not think possible. I can look at rhino’s now but still find I turn away when the images are of a charging bull rhino.

avalanche1

My second ‘phobia’ became apparent once I became a mother. The feelings of love and protection were (and are) so intense that I worry about my children’s safety and well-being. Even now when they are adult’s, I still worry about them (I am often teased because of it but the ‘cord’ is never cut – as we mother’s know only too well). Again I had recurring nightmares of this situation, which in a dreamscape is perfectly reasonable, of course. Bearing in mind at the time I was living in England and the situation was far from possible, the dreams were all too real to me.

Once again the dreams were vivid and I had the sensation of the bitter cold. Upon waking I would be shivering. The dream situated me with my two small children on a mountain side where an avalanche roared down towards us. I grabbed a child under each arm and ran to a rocky outcrop, where I held them tight under the overhang. As tonnes of snow poured over us I clung as tightly as I could to ensure each child was not ripped from my grasp.

Once the torrent ceased, we were buried in a capsule of snow and ice with a small pocket of space around us. As time passed, we became colder and colder and I understood I had to find a way to keep my children warm. (Now remember this is a dream and anything is possible in a dream!) I had the children put their feet and hands on my torso and that worked for a while but I could feel my extremities heat lessening. So the best way to keep the children warm was to put them ‘inside’ me where it was very warm. I cut my torso open and made the children crawl inside.

This is the moment I would wake up.

So now you have a glimpse at my psyche – how about you share too?

Writing Prompt Wednesday


9781608636921

Have you ever experienced something that just could not be logically explained?

This event happened when I was about nine or ten years old. My father was driving the car with my mother in the front seat and my three siblings and I in the back seat. (Years before seat belts!) We were  driving across Bucklebury Common, a familiar place to us all as we lived nearby.

There appeared an object in the clear blue sky that we thought at first was an plane. However, as it drew closer we could all see it was oval in shape, had a dark coloured exterior and did not reflect the sunlight.

My father slowed the car down (there were no other cars on the road) so he could see better and we all stared at the object, which just hung in the air – not moving up or down or in either direction – just perfectly still.

We are convinced it was a UFO but have no way of proving it as my father did not have his camera with him and it was decades before cell phones were invented.

To this day I sometimes reflect on  that experience. The object disappeared as quickly as it had come into view, seemingly in the blink of an eye – surely not a conventional mode of human transport.

UFO

Have you had an unexplained event? Why not share in the comments?

Writing Prompt Wednesday


9781608636921

Have you done any research into your ancestors? What interesting surprises have you discovered?

One rather big surprise when researching my maternal ancestry was that my great, great grandfather was transported to Tasmania from Liverpool, England. At the tender age of fifteen he was convicted of stealing a piece of calico and sentence to seven years in Van Diemans Land.

Previously he had stolen two game cocks but had escaped punishment. Who knows what age he was then. The poor lad was on the transport ship, William for 127 days. Many did not survive the journey.

What is astonishing is that he made his way back to England at the age of 38, which was very unusual, most stayed after their sentence was complete (if they survived). But my great great grandfather, married a local girl in Tasmania and brought her back to England with their young daughter.

It shows an incredibly strong character and physical strength to endure.

Do you have an ancestor’s story to share?