Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Truth About Memoir Writing by author Carolyn DiPasquale


Fourteen-year-old Rachel guards a collection of secrets for ten years, journaling to vent her terror and loneliness. Following Rachel's fatal overdose years later, her mother, Carolyn DiPasquale, stumbles upon her daughter's diaries. Shattered, she searches for answers, retracing her steps to figure out how parents and doctors missed three major mental illnesses. What the single, working mother recalls is a far cry from what happens, as is dramatically revealed in tandem chapters gleaned from Rachel's journals. While the mother sprints from task to task, the daughter details the baffling emergence and frightening progression of bulimia, diabulimia, and borderline personality disorder; her eventual substance abuse; and heart-wrenching reasons for not seeking help. Despite her loss, DiPasquale hopes her story lights a path for victims of mental illness while awakening all readers.


The Truth About Memoir Writing

We love true stories. Books and films based on actual events are often our first picks. Maybe we’re slightly voyeuristic because we like being privy to people’s unique thoughts and experiences. Keenly aware of this, memoir writers try to serve up truth. We report events with precision. Dig deep inside to recall our exact thoughts, motives, words. And for the most part we do. But I’ve learned it’s wise to withhold some truths.  

For example, there’s a scene in “Doves Make Feeble Mothers” in which my father sharply reprimands my sister and me, respectively seven and six, for frolicking on our front lawn half naked after a bubble bath. In truth, he had led us downstairs to his dark workshop, turned on his roaring table saw, and threatened to saw off our hands if we did it again, a fact I retained in earlier versions but eventually cut. I needed an example of questionable parenting, but this was over the top; moreover, it portrayed my generally docile father as a monster for an admittedly abusive though completely isolated incident.

I also removed morsels about my ex. In earlier versions of “Broken,” I described Perry waltzing into Rachel’s hospital room on three separate occasions after her diabetes diagnosis, eating sugary foods after she begged him not to. I had included these facts to develop his character and illustrate why tension existed between him and Rachel. However, my writing group thought Perry’s behavior was too outrageous for a father to be credible. Fearing readers might question my reliability as a narrator, I cut the scene.

I was more transparent about my parenting, liberally disclosing my many mistakes. I knew some readers would criticize me. Still, these were truths worth telling; truths readers could learn from. For the same reason, I flung open my daughter’s journals, revealing things most mothers don’t want to know, much less talk about; not to be macabre, but to illustrate the tragic trajectory of untreated mental illness. I did not want readers to miss that, nor the fact that without early, effective help people will suffer and decline. Some will die. Still, I did not tell all. I withheld some truths from Rachel’s journals that would have mortified her and other dark incidents that would have crushed her father and brothers.

Carolyn DiPasquale grew up in Franksville, Wisconsin, graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a double major in English and French. In 1983, she moved to Rhode Island where she raised three children while pursuing her Master’s in English at the University of Rhode Island. Over her career, she taught literature and composition at various New England colleges; worked as a technical writer at the Naval Underseas Warfare Center in Newport; and wrote winning grants as a volunteer for Turning Around Ministries, a Newport aftercare program for ex-offenders. She has been an active member of the Newport Round Table, a professional writing group (founded in 1995), since 2013. DiPasquale currently lives in Richmond, Rhode Island where she has started working on a sequel to Reckless Grace. She has also ventured into writing children’s books. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking with healthy ingredients, hiking and trapshooting with her husband Phil, and volunteering at the New Hope Chapel food pantry in Carolina, Rhode Island. Visit her website to follow her updates. You can also follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Paying Tribute with a Book: The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story


The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story
is a narrative non-fiction book about the author’s family history—particularly the lives of his paternal ancestors from Sao Miguel Island in Portugal. The story begins with his great-grandparents before shifting focus to his paternal grandparents and their unconditional love for each other. Their relationship overcame many obstacles of the time, and they were physically separated for nearly three years after leaving the homeland. They became immigrants in Canada—a place where the author was born and raised, being something that he is grateful for yet fascinated to reflect on the history of how it happened. Weaving a wonderful tale of the struggles and triumphs as well as the rich Portuguese culture of their ancestry, the book follows his grandfather, Vovô, who was the impetus for life in the New World. Embarking on the journey of lifetime, they carried out a mission guided by true love to carve out a fighting chance for the future of his family. The author speaks on various characteristics embodied and behavioural traits that have shaped his sense of self today while forging a deep connection with his ancestors. The history has been set out for those with the privilege to continue down the path—a sentiment that the author draws out with great detail. The descriptions of events set the scene to take the reader back in time.

Paying Tribute With A Book

It was a fortuitous day when I was inspired by my family history. One of those things that pulled me in like a rip current off the shores of the motherland. Meticulous research, of the genealogy kind, a hobby for the better part of ten years, compelled me to make a poetic and creative decision. I began to write a book, orchestrating my discoveries, into a biography about my grandfather's immigration to Canada. Since he came here, I have been fortunate and privileged to be born and raised on this great land. Much of what he came with has slowly disappeared with time, except for some paper documents and the memories he left behind. Today, I find myself representing a long branch of Portuguese lineage. I wanted to pay tribute and document that era of remarkable history. It would be something to reflect on, to share with readers, and most of all, commemorate what my grandfather lived for. So there I was, falling deeper down the rabbit hole as I uncovered lost details that I never knew about. With each discovery, I found a new understanding about my family, and myself. That was a long and winding road leading up to my very existence. If not for my grandfather’s trials and tribulations, the road would not have been paved as the foundation for my life today. He was an exceptional immigrant. A pioneer of the Portuguese people. He lived an incredible life while surrounded by fascinating circumstances. Weaving a wonderful tale of the struggles and triumphs as well as the rich culture of my ancestry, my book follows Vovô, who was the impetus for a new beginning. Embarking on the journey of a lifetime, he was guided by true love to carve out a fighting chance for my future. This book is his life story: The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story.



Devin Meireles
is a healthcare administrative worker from Toronto that moonlights as a freelance writer. Apart from creative writing, Devin enjoys films, history, genealogy, and stamps in his passport. He wrote a narrative nonfiction book about his grandfather’s immigration story and has published many articles in literary journals and cultural magazines. His latest book is the narrative nonfiction, The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story. You can connect with him at Instagram at

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Book Spotlight: Dangerous Waters by Mike Martin

Old habits die hard...
Sgt. Windflower tries his best to ease away from life as a Mountie, but the lure of an investigation is too hard to resist. After a missing man turns up dead, Sgt. Windflower is pulled in to investigate. Meanwhile, the arrival of a group of unique foreign visitors during a snowstorm in Grand Bank offers up another mystery. Even with so much going on, Windflower can't resist the enticement of a good meal and a trip to the island of Saint Pierre off the coast of Newfoundland. But when things get rough, Windflower can always rely on Eddie Tizzard and the gang to have his back. As always, Windflower's wife Sheila and their daughters are beacons of love and support as he navigates dangerous waters. Grand Bank beckons you to another great story in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series.


Mike Martin
was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 12 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Dangerous Waters. A Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. Mike has also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present. Some Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are now available as audiobooks and the latest A Long Ways from Home was released as an audiobook in 2022. All audiobooks are available from Audible in Canada and around the world. Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild and Ottawa Independent Writers and Capital Crime Writers. His latest book is the mystery, Dangerous Waters. You can visit his website at  or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.