Monday, November 28, 2016

Life + Inspiration = Fiction

When the Dora-Faye Hendricks of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society invited me to give a talk (as opposed to a reading) for the Words, Writers & West Seattle series, I’ll admit I was stumped. Despite a lifetime of teaching and dozens of bookstore and library readings, I am not a public speaker. I can read. I can’t speak. Or perhaps I should say, I can’t speak unless I’m teaching. It’s different. Besides, I had no idea what to talk about.

Then I met Clay Eals on Alki Beach to film this video invitation to the event. We stood next to the sign post that graces the cover of Running Secrets with Elliot Bay behind us and the gorgeous Seattle skyline in the distance. It was a clear day – rare in these weeks of winter gray – and once again I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place I call home.  

Still, I am even less comfortable with video-taping than I am with public speaking, so Clay chatted and joked and helped me relax. He asked about my event and encouraged me to talk about myself, my connections to West Seattle, and my inspiration for The Alki Trilogy.

“They want to know about you,” Clay said. “They want to know the person behind the stories.”

I pondered this for a while before admitting that every time I read a book or attend a book event, I want to know about the author and his or her inspiration. Where did she get the idea? Why did he write this particular story? I decided there might be other readers like me who are interested in where ideas and characters come from and how life experiences play into fiction. Are you?

As I considered the circuitous journey my life has taken, my West Seattle connections and the inspiration for The Alki Trilogy, I better understood how deeply these facets of my life are connected and the planning of my talk became easier.

I’m gathering photographs and stories, facts and statistics that I hope will explain the life and inspiration behind The Alki Trilogy. I hope you can join me this Friday and tell me what you think!

Barnes and Noble - Westwood Village
2600 SW Barton St Suite E-1
Seattle, WA 98126
Friday, December 2, 2016
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Video Invitation

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Memoir Is

Memoir is a tool for understanding the world and our place in it, for processing pain and for coming to terms with past and present realities.

We all have stories to tell. However, we do not necessarily know what they are and why they are important. Writing can help us see why our stories matter, and why we feel a sense of urgency to tell them. Carefully considered, our stories can shed light on our moral assignments.
Mary Pipher, Writing to Change the World
Memoir is more than simply slapping a story on a journal page. Like all writing, it involves discipline, dedication, and process. There are as many ways to write, as many practices and techniques, as there are writers, but in the end a solid memoir is a well-written story with universal appeal.

A good memoir requires two elements – one of art, the other of craft. The first is integrity of intention … Memoir is how we try to make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us. If a writer seriously embarks on that quest, readers will be nourished by the journey, bringing along many associations with quests of their own.
The other element is carpentry. Good memoirs are a careful act of construction … Memoir writers must manufacture a text, imposing narrative order on a jumble of half-remembered events. With that feat of manipulation they arrive at a truth that is theirs alone, not quite like that of anybody else who was present at the same events.
William Zinsser, Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
Memoir is truth, the writer’s truth. As we write, we remind ourselves that we are telling our own truth, that we are being as honest as we are capable of being, that there is rarely just one singular truth.

The memoir is not and should never be confused with the truth. The very act of writing creates a literary construct: alteration is inevitable. As a result, truth belongs to the teller. Truth is relative to the teller.
Laura Kalpakian, The Memoir Club
Next Saturday, November 16, I have the pleasure of joining a panel of three other memoirists to explore memoir from inspiration to publication. Allan Ament, Margaret Bendet, Judith Works, and I will discuss topics ranging from techniques for generating ideas and methods for drafting and organizing to publishing options in today’s changing landscape. I hope you’ll join us.

135 N Washington Ave, Arlington WA 98223-1422
Saturday, November 16, 2016
2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Stirring Journey into the World of African Refugees

Would you like a free copy of Walking Home today?
My Sunday inbox held this message from Tana at Read It & Reap. 

Sign up below for your free book. Or if your an author, find out how you can also participate in this Goodreads program.


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Our Read It & Reap program is designed with authors in mind. Our goal is to help indie and self-published authors promote their books.

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Title: Walking Home
Author: Arleen Williams
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Formats Available: Mobi, Epub & Pdf
Page # 244
Review Due Date: November 6, 2016

Book Description:

In this stirring journey into the world of African refugees, Arleen Williams creates a story that is both heartwarming and haunting.

Seattle is a long way from the Horn of Africa. Despite escaping his country’s violence, Kidane is never too far from the nightmares and despair of his past. A new country, a new hope, and a new love may not be enough to save him. Only when he is able to face his worst fears can he have any hope of being truly free.

The city of Seattle provides the backdrop for this powerful coming of age tale that, along with the other interconnecting portraits that make up The Alki Trilogy, gives voice to the plight of the immigrants in the Pacific Northwest.

Be one of the first people to sign up below in order to receive a copy of this ebook to Read and Review!

Formats available: Mobi, Epub & Pdf

All reviews should be completed and posted within 3 weeks .

It would be appreciated if you could post your reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Review Due Date: November 6, 2016

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wedding Day!

On Sunday, September 4, 2016, our daughter, Erin Williams, married her best friend, Elliot Brasch. My husband and I couldn't be happier for the new couple. They belong together.
Our home filled with family, and friends arrived from near and far.
There are no formal photographs yet, but thanks to friends and family, I have a few to shots to share.
Maid-of-honor Michelle and her husband Blair hosted the rehearsal dinner in their beautiful back yard.
Preparations began at 7 a.m. on wedding day with hair and makeup.

And continued at the wedding venue!
Erin and Elliot exchanged vows.
And after dinner, the dancing began!

The magical day came to a beautiful end ... and it all still feels like a dream.

Monday, August 22, 2016

My Heart Tells Me

It is a cool, overcast Seattle morning. A silent calm fills the neighborhood. I am silent as well. My pen has been silent for too long. I wait in silence for the re-release of my books after the demise of my publisher and the signing with another. I wait in silence for medical updates on a sister's health after the loss of two other beloveds to cancer only months ago. I wait in silence, in a silent home, for the arrival of family to fill these rooms in joyous anticipation of our daughter's wedding.

A summer of waiting, of silence, of holding in tears. The tears of pain and joy so intermixed I find myself teetering, equilibrium at times difficult to maintain. I support the worried and grieving as well as the joyous as best I can, knowing what I offer is never enough. It will never be enough.

The losses will always be felt, but with time and patience the flood waters of hurt will recede. Though there may be glitches in the perfect wedding plans, the bliss will always be cherished, the memories locked away, a balance against future losses.

In the silence of one gray Seattle morning, I reminded myself there will always be losses and new beginnings. My heart told me to put pen to paper once again, knowing life's challenge is learning to negotiate the extremes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Night at Sheep Lake

Eight years ago, my husband and I took a friend backpacking to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. Since that first trip, she has made it her annual birthday tradition to gather a group of friends and head to the mountains in mid-July for a night or two of camping and hiking.
I began backpacking close to my thirtieth birthday. As I age, the pack feels heavier, the ground gets harder and the physical recovery from sore muscles and achy joints takes longer. Still, I never regret the effort. Sitting by a crackling campfire high atop a mountainside with stars overhead centers me. The calm is vast, the beauty a reminder of all that is good in this crazy world.
There's much to be said for annual traditions. They keep us doing something we might otherwise allow to slip away, replaced by the demands of life and work. I'm grateful to my friend for getting us out into the ancient tranquility of the Pacific Northwest mountains in the early summer each year. Now, our backpacks are out of the attic, packed, and ready for the next weekend escape. It doesn't take much - only one night - to shift perspective and refresh the soul.