2016 has been a busy year so far and I’ve been helping lots of authors reach their dreams of publication.
The Girl With the Emerald Brooch has been one of my biggest success stories to date. I first met Jacqueline Creek at a memoir writing workshop I ran in October 2013, as part of Sheffield’s Off the Shelf literary festival.
I asked participants to bring along an item of sentimental value to write about. Jacqueline brought along the brooch, a very small but significant object. The short but moving piece she wrote became the starting point of her memoir – and there will be several more volumes about Jacqueline’s exciting life to come.
Growing up in the working class community of Owlerton, Jacqueline looks after her ailing family and becomes a rebellious, rock ‘n’ roll loving teenager. Blossoming into a beautiful young woman, she faces the challenges of growing up and finding her own path in life.
This book is more than just a memoir. Jacqueline vividly brings the Sheffield of the 1950s and early 60s to life. She conjours up a long-lost world: Tanfield Road, where she grew up, has now been demolished and replaced by motor garages. I can’t drive down Penistone Road now without thinking about the people who once lived here.
After the book was self-published on Amazon, The Girl With the Emerald Brooch was published by J R Nicholls. The book is available on Amazon, in both paperback and e-book formats.
What’s your story? An introduction to memoir writing.
I’m excited to be running a new memoir writing course – this time, it’s in my guise as a Derbyshire Adult Education tutor.
The course will run on Monday evenings for 5 weeks, from 6.30-8.30pm at the beautiful Gladys Buxton Centre in Dronfield, S18 2EJ (it’s just over the border in Derbyshire, but very close to Sheffield.) The course runs for five weeks, with a break on the Bank Holiday Monday 26th May, to give you more opportunity to do some writing!
If you’ve always fancied writing a memoir, but aren’t sure how to get started, this course is for you. I’ll take you through from exploring memories using creative techniques, structuring and planning your memoir, bringing memories alive through dialogue and description, exploring alternative formats such as blogging or poetry, and looking at successful memoirs and autobiographies such as Jennifer Worth’s ‘Call the Midwife’. What makes them so vivid and compelling?
The course will also be a great opportunity to share experiences and the mutual support of other writers. The course is suitable for anyone from any background, young or old! You just need to want to tell your story.
Contact me for more information about the course via email or on 07815966784, or call the Gladys Buxton Centre on 01246 413631 to book a place.
It’s easy to let life rush by, until you find that it’s too late for the things that really matter. Like capturing the memories of a loved one – the stories and the details that make us who we are. I’m launching a gift service to make it easier for you to keep your family stories forever.
This Christmas, it will be twelve years since my grandfather (Arthur – we called him Gardan) died. Starting Wild Rosemary Writing Services has made me think more about my grandparents, and the important of knowing our family stories. I’ve only got a few fragments of my grandfather talking about his life, a very precious present from my Aunty Marion! But it’s frustrating only having a few stories. Gardan was full of them. He was a born comedian, and his anecdotes and jokes entertained us for hours. To admit I needed to record him would have been acknowledging that he was getting older and more frail; more lonely without my grandmother. Memories fade. And how many people have photographs of the moment they fell in love?
Thanks to my cousin Chris making some transcripts of interviews with Gardan when he was at school, I would otherwise never have known that my grandparents met when Arthur and his mates decided to gate-crash a clothing factory’s dance in 1937. The lads saw a poster outside and realised that a popular band-leader was playing. Seventeen-year-old Arthur was the only young man who could dance. That’s how he met a dark-haired girl, dressed in a velvet frock. She’d probably made it herself. Imagine, if Arthur had gone to a different dance, or if Pat had danced with someone else? Three generations of our family would never have existed.
I wish I knew more about the fun-loving young man my grandfather was. From the transcripts, I know that he was almost a motor mechanic, rather than a plasterer. In World War Two, he wasn’t fit for the Armed Forces, due to imperfect hearing and flat feet, but he did essential work, repairing bomb damage and building army bases. The American Forces brought shared their luxurious food rations with the builders – pork steak and “biscuits” – and nicknamed Arthur “Red” due to the colour of his hair. He once smuggled two American soldiers out of a Lincolnshire base on a bus, disguised as builders, so that they could dance the night away in the Palais nightclub in Nottingham.
And I know where I get my habit of becoming totally absorbed in a book or a film from. Arthur was in Sheffield (I wish I knew where), repairing bomb damage after the blitz. He went to the cinema, but was concentrating so much on the film that he didn’t notice the air-raid siren until the cinema had completely emptied and he was sitting on the balcony alone. He ran out onto the deserted streets…
I’d like to help you to capture the moments that shaped your family. I’ve created a gift package, which includes:
A 3-hour informal interview with your loved one. Why not invite family members to make it more of an occasion? This could be conducted in person or via the phone, or Skype.
An edited transcript of the interview, with photographs.
Quality printing and binding, and the transcript will also be provided electronically.
Prices start at £300 for the full service.
Gift cards available if the service is being purchased as a present.
Bespoke binding and printing also available – just ask for more details.
Contact Anne Grange on 07815966784 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Wild Rosemary is my writing business. I’m specialising in helping people to write memoirs and biographies.
I thought carefully about my business name. As a herb, Rosemary is said to improve the memory. It symbolises remembrance and in Hamlet, Ophelia says “there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”. I thought it was very apt, with a literary ring to it! My middle name is Rosemary too. It’s time my name came in useful.
The “Wild” part is because I’m now freelance. And who doesn’t like a bit of wildness, whether it’s re-living crazy, carefree days, a day spent in the countryside? Today has been quite wild: a spring day today with the leaves and flowers finally coming to life in the bright sunshine; ungainly bumble bees bumping into people. Then the wind would gust and the sky would turn dark grey. But the sun won the fight in the end.
Find out more about the Memory Box Memoir Writing taster courses I’m teaching on Thursday 23rd and 30th May at the Quaker Meeting House in Sheffield. The courses will help you to tell your story, no matter what stage you’re at or how confident you are with writing. Click on the News and Events page for more details.