Monday, November 16, 2015

WHAT NOT TO ASK

I'm thrilled to have Mark Koopmans' here today.
He's the author of Revival: The Donald Braswell Story - How a Tenor Lost his Voice, but Found his Calling.
If you've been following his tour, you know it's all about writing a memoir. 
Today he's sharing another important tip. 
Take it away Mark.


Aloha,
“What not to ask when writing someone's memoir.”

That’s the question posed by Yolanda, who’s ever so kind in letting me pitch my tent on her blog as I continue the Tour for REVIVAL – The Donald Braswell story.

The most important lesson I learnt—the hard way—was the writer and the subject clearly need to define the time period of the memoir—as opposed to the lifetime story that is normally a biography.

Donald has such a wonderful, inspiring journey that I initially thought the reader would “need” to know about his early years.

However, Donald’s main story revolves around the period that starts before he attends Juilliard until a little after his appearances on America’s Got Talent.

Eventually, I Freddy Krueger-ed  10,000 words, and months of hard work editing became a nightmare on my street…

But, once the cuts were made, the story flowed much better and I relaxed… and the rest is history…

So, define the time period of the memoir, and then build up a professional relationship with the subject who needs to understand several interviews and many, many follow ups (via email, or in person) will be needed before the first draft is complete.

Donald was great in granting me unparalleled access to his folks, folders and fond memory banks, but I’m sure I drove him a little batty with my random questions that came up while I finished early drafts, and the editing process really began.

Oh, and don’t not ask the difficult question(s)—and do learn how to politely prod. Sometimes the best information/memories Donald provided came as he answered one “simple” question that opened up another door to his inspirational story.

Do you have any tips on memoir writing?

Thanks again Yolanda. I really appreciate you letting me stop on by!
Tomorrow, I’ll be tearing it up at Dianne Salerni’s blog.

(Dianne wants more specifics about the challenges of writing memoir when it’s time to edit…)



BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Five years removed from his 1990 Juilliard graduation, Donald Braswell is set to be “the next Pavarotti.” Braswell’s successful career ends, however, not with a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, but alone, lying in a dirty ditch.
Following the hit-and-run accident that steals his voice and future, the “Texas Tenor” struggles with depression and despair—until the night his daughter, Aria, is born. Understanding this new and immediate life change, Braswell fights to relearn how to speak, sing—and share this gift of second chances with others.
Working as a plasterer, a car salesman, and many jobs in-between, it takes thirteen years—and a musical miracle—for Braswell to battle back and sing on a professional stage. His dreams and ambitions collide with a tired and angry crowd when he auditions for America’s Got Talent. For his family, his faith and his entire future, can the Rocky Balboa of the operatic world find the courage and strength to win just one more fight?
CLICK HERE TO READ A FREE CHAPTER.


PURCHASE LINKS:
·        Pen-L Publishing
·        Amazon
·        B&N.com



AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:
Mark Koopmans is originally from Ireland. After working in Holland, Spain, France and England, he won his U.S. “Green Card” in 1994, and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he’s worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book, a novel. Koopmans lives in Virginia and is a married, stay-at-home dad to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.
Find his blog at markkoopmans.blogspot.com.
SINGER BIOGRAPHY:
Donald Braswell II is an American actor, classical crossover tenor and composer. Braswell was on a fast track to become an internationally acclaimed opera singer when he suffered a car accident in 1995 that made him unable to speak for almost two years. After that, he lived a quiet life outside of the spotlight until his appearance on the 2008 season of America’s Got Talent where he was a Top 5 finalist, which gave him another chance at a career in entertainment. Since then, he has entertained audiences both internationally as well as shore to shore in the United States in concerts, television appearances, inspirational speaking and radio. He boasts an international fan club with fans from over 25 countries.
Braswell has reentered the world of music by singing in concerts starting with the Symphony of the Hills in Kerrville, Texas in June 2009. He performs a variety of musical genres ranging from pure classical repertoire to soul to mainstream pop. He engages people of many cultures by singing in various languages outside of English, including Spanish, Italian, Neapolitan, French and Russian. His concerts are generally multilingual, and he has performed pieces that are themselves in more than one language. Some of these include: Mario Frangoulis bilingual version of “Nights in White Satin” (Italian title “Notte di luce”), originally by The Moody Blues; “The Prayer”; and Andrea Bocelli’s “Vivere” (English title “Dare to Live”). His other non-English repertoire includes Aqustin Lara’s “Rosa” (Spanish), Mario Frangoulis’s “Vincerò, perderò” (Italian) and the Neapolitan standard “O sole mio”.
Some of his many compositions can be heard on his recent album We Fall and We Rise Again.
Donald is a testament to the powers of the human spirit in difficult times and he inspires all who come to know him.
Find him at donaldbraswell.com

• REVIVAL, prior to publication, won the award for “Outstanding Memoir” at the 2013 Southern California Writers Conference.
• Braswell finished in the top 5 of America’s Got Talent, Season 3 (2008). Watch his inspiring first NBC audition here.


GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:
Rafflecopter tasks, such as sharing the giveaway, will earn readers entries in a random drawing.
·        GRAND PRIZE (2 winners): Donald Braswell to sing (Happy Birthday/Anniversary) via Skype or phone call. (A unique gift idea!)
·        1ST PLACE PRIZE: Signed Donald Braswell CD/REVIVAL book combo
·        2nd, 3rd and 4th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of REVIVAL (by Donald and Mark)
·        5th, 6th and 7th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of Donald Braswell CDs

·        8th, 9th, and 10th PLACE PRIZES: Signed Donald Braswell 8x10 picture

a Rafflecopter giveaway


PLEASE CONSIDER TWEETING ONE OF THESE:
·        Love #AmericasGotTalent? Check out this memoir from a Season 3 finalist! http://goo.gl/OR9CVR #amreading #inspiration



 THANKS, MARK, 
I'M ENJOYING YOUR TOUR
AND LEARNING A LOT ABOUT WRITING A MEMOIR.
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR MARK,
PLEASE ASK.

43 comments:

  1. I makes sense to home in on a set time. What are the difficult questions? I'm a little naive, I guess.

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    1. That is a good question:) and I suppose it would depend on each person, because we all this we all have different lives...

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  2. Good to know there are no forbidden questions if you do it with genuine tact.

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  3. Sometimes the simple questions are a good lead in indeed

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    1. It's like opening Pandora's box sometimes :-)

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  4. Great tip! I wouldn't know what sort of questions to ask. I like learning about the process through you. Thank you!

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    1. I was learning as I was going along, but once I had questions that "felt" right, I had to ask them, and Donald was always gracious enough to answer them.

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  5. It sounds like you picked the right stretch of time for the story.

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    1. It wasn't always that way :-) "Finding" the beginning of the story was definitely the hardest part of the entire project!

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  6. Thank you so much, Yolanda, for allowing me to stop by and share some more tips and suggestions. I really appreciate your support:)

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  7. Defining the time period of the memoir is a great tip! And you know, those 10,000 words you cut from the memoir could still come in handy, if you kept it. You never know. Maybe you could share pieces of it on your blog. :)

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    1. I did save it... I'm a complete hoarder when it comes to writing... and what a cool idea... hmmmm, I'll have to think how I could do that... thanks Chrys :)

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  8. That's such a good point and one I would never have thought of. Cutting 10K words would make me a little sick.

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    1. Oh, it hurt for awhile.. but it was definitely the right thing to do :)

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  9. Cutting all of those words must have hurt, no matter how right it was. A bit like removing a band-aid. Necessary, but doesn't it smart?

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    1. Ha-ha! That's an excellent way to describe it, EC :)

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  10. I'm really bad about adding too much back story. It's a personality of being a very chatty talker coming back to haunt me.

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  11. I'm really bad about adding too much back story. It's a personality of being a very chatty talker coming back to haunt me.

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    1. You really are a chatty commenter, Liz :)

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  12. As a social worker, I refined the art of asking "the next question" which was usually probing, easily answered with a lot of intriguing details. I'm sure as a Journalist Mark, you also learned that technique well.

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    1. I had the "luxury" of on-the-job training, so it took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, it was always my go-to interview method :)

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  13. Great pointers! I have several friends writing their own memoirs, and the ways they extricate their own memories are pretty cool.

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    1. Thanks, Shannon :) I suppose when it comes to one's own memoir, it really is up to the person...I think patience is the key if you're working someone else (at least that's what worked for me :)

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  14. One of the most difficult genres to write. Probing someone else's vulnerabilities requires a super delicate touch. The book sounds inspirational.

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    1. Thank you so much, Nilanjana. Very nice of you to say so - and our interviews were very delicate - at some stages :)

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  15. Catching up. lol That's pretty important information to have! I would think the beginning is where to start, too, but there are a lot of beginnings in a person's life. :D

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    1. Deb, you totally nailed the problem I had :) Donald has had a wonderful, interesting life, so It was tough to find my "bookends" (no pun intended... well, maybe a little :)

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  16. Hi Yolanda! Hi Mark! I love memoirs, but most of my friends don't. I find them riveting, but then, I'm really curious about people's lives. Yours sounds great!

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    1. Thanks Denise, and I have to admit, I liked memoirs before REVIVAL, but once I started researching, I read one, than another and now I *love* memoirs... gosh, we all have so many interesting stories to tell... but it's *how* you tell them that makes the difference :)

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  17. Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by to comment on Mark's post. He's doing one amazing blog tour, posting all of November and his posts are a "how to write a memoir" full of vital information. I plan to tackle a memoir one day - these posts will be vital. Are you bookmarking them too?
    Thanks, Mark, keep up the good work, and much success with your book!

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    1. (Blushes) Thanks again for *all* your help and support - and for sharing Sia's post with me... that really was a very cool surprise :)

      I'll definitely come up with a way of saving these posts once we hit December, possibly under a specific "page" on my blog. I'm just happy people are enjoying the posts :)

      Here's to the REVIVAL of more memoirs :)

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  18. Editing Freddie style. I like that image. Chopping 10,000 must have been hard, but sounds like the right, but painful, decision.

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    1. Yes, it was sooo hard, because as you know, I didn't find these words trembling under a bush... but they *were* nurtured and loved for months!!

      However, it was the right decision and I'm nearly over the chopping pain :)

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  19. *waves at Mark* *waves at Yolanda* I'm excited about this story. Very inspiring.

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    1. Waves back!! And I'm heading over to yours right after I leave these comments... that's funny :)

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  20. Hi Yolanda! Wow, Mark-what a story and loved all the notes of pushing and going there. This is a story that needed to be told. I remember him and wondered what happened?! Thank you, for going all Freddie and admitting it~ He is a gifted inspirational man who found his way back! I am thrilled you helped him by sharing his world~ Congrats!!

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    1. Thanks, Ella. That means a lot to me... and I know I've said it a dozen times elsewhere, but telling Donald's story really was a labor of love :)

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  21. I've cut 10k, even more. I know what that's like. I've never attempted a biography or memoir, so this was insightful.

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  22. I remember Donald from AGT. What an inspiring story!
    As for memoir writing - that's what I do the most of, but so far, just short blog posts about my own life. I do plan on publishing some in future, so will definitely check out more of your sage advice, Mark.That must have been painful, to cut out 10,000 words!
    Thanks for sharing this, Yolanda.

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  23. I'm not a fan of any of the talent shows out there (figuring out TV scheduling in Curaçao is a challenge), and I'm not into showbiz much, so I'd never heard of Donald. So I came to his story relatively unbiased (I did see an earlier post on the tour) and—wow, it blew me away. Kudos to Donald for grappling with such enormous odds against him, and coming out on top. And kudos to Mark for writing this story down and inspiring us all. Bravo! And much, much success with it.
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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  24. Hey Yolanda and what's his name?

    Ah yes, it be Sir Mazza and I had to backtrack to get to this post because I'm totally out of sequins, um, totally out of sequence.

    I thoroughly skimmed through this post and having done that I do know that the story is indeed and I quote, a "labor of love:) I must now apologise to my English, English spell check for the misspelling of "labour"!

    Consider this post shared because good news needs to be shared.

    I'm outta' here ant like almost four in the morning. Do I get bonus points?

    Gary :)

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