Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hold On To Those Flashbulb Memories--and Write! by Stan Weeber

Flashbulb memories are very vivid and long lasting memories of the delivery of shocking news. The news is so important that we clearly remember the context in which the news was heard in great detail – where we were, what we were doing and the people present at the time. The memories tend to be long lasting because the news delivered may have important historical or personal significance. The unexpected deaths of a family member, a President, or a politician we admire are examples. Our emotionally charged reactions to unforeseen events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor or the September 11 attacks upon America also serve as examples.

My purpose in writing today is to encourage you to hang on to these memories and to write about them if you are so inclined. The initial drafts of your work come easily because you simply write down in narrative form, or poetic form, what you remember about the flashbulb event. Then, you contextualize your memory based upon an audience that you want to reach.

For example, I was so distraught at the news of President Kennedy’s death on November 22, 1963, that I vowed to find out why someone would do such a dreadful thing. Forty years later, I published a biography of the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The first chapter was based upon my own flashbulb memory of that horrible day. The remainder of the book was an academic study of Mr. Oswald’s life.

I was so saddened over the loss of life in the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995, that I once again vowed to peer inside the mindset of someone who would act in such a horrific way. When the New York Times reported on April 21 that accused bomber Timothy McVeigh had attended militia meetings in Michigan, I dug deeply into the mental makeup of people who join militia groups. The result: thirteen academic studies about the militia movement.

My third flashbulb memory came ironically enough on another November 22, this time in 2002. This was not a day that everyone remembers. It had more significance to me as an individual than for most people. The news flash on this day was that yet another woman was now missing in South Louisiana, this one in Lafayette. I immediately thought of the South Louisiana Serial Killer case. If confirmed as a victim of the serial killer, it would be his fourth victim. I was greatly concerned for the safety of my female students – I am a professor in Lake Charles – and now there was a victim about an hour away from where I live and teach. My fears about the case led to my book, In Search of Derrick Todd Lee, which was about online activists trying to coordinate information about the killer.

As you can see, my flashbulb memories were about major newsworthy events, but flashbulb memories do not always require such a high profile. The death of a relative, a pet, or the horrendous aftermath of a violent storm are also examples. Or, you win an award and life changes forever for the better. Some flashbulb memories are positive. .

One reason that flashbulb memories are remembered is because these memories tend to be retold over and over again. Because of that, accuracy tends to be lost over time, and the details are not necessarily accurate. Don’t worry, the memory is still vivid to you and deserves to be told as you remember it. Readers will bond with your account if they’ve been through something similar.

Stan Weeber is an Associate Professor of Sociology at McNeese State University. He has written or edited 20 books, including In Search of Derrick Todd Lee: The Internet Social Movement that Made a Difference (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2007).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Secret of the Written Word by Marcia Dutton

“Marcia, it is two a.m. and you have to be up early in the morning. You need to get to bed” admonished my husband.
“I can’t, I just can’t.  I’m reliving that glorious trip we made through Europe on the Eurorail trains.  Remember that year of the Achilles Lauro terrorist attack when that guy was thrown overboard?  Everyone was afraid to travel and we had entire compartments to ourselves and no tourist crowds to contend with.”
Normally, I don’t live in the past. I have moved so many times; there is only the present for me.  However, joining the Bayou Writer’s Group got me into writing my past adventures and what fun it has been remembering all those experiences.
With our three week Eurorail passes we were able to come and go practically any time of day or night, staying at favorite places as long as we pleased. We could leave extra baggage in railway lockers, take day trips or excursions without waiting in line for tickets or going through the hassle of restrictions.            Boat trips across lakes in Switzerland and cog trains to mountain tops were included. We took ‘Sound of Music’ bus tours through Austrian Alps, watched the Lipizzaner dancing horses in Vienna, toured the blue Danube, walked through vineyards and enjoyed watching passersby at outdoor cafes. Venice, Paris and Barcelona were near enough to be explored.
Now because of my writing I am able to not only remember these places but share them with others who are interested.  How often does one get to do that in everyday conversation? Ah, what a discovery this little secret of the written word. 

Award-winning artist Marcia Dutton has published letters to the editor in the American Press and the only English newspaper in Saudi Arabia. She was a newsletter editor in Saudi Arabia and sent numerous letters home to family members about life in the various countries she lived in. Marcia is writing a book of memoirs about her days in the U.S. Navy and her many adventures abroad.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

McNeese Leisure Learning - Writing Classes

To the Bayou Writers,
McNeese Leisure Learning offers the following writing courses starting this week:

Query, Synopsis, and Book Proposal Workshop
Instructor: Janice Repka J.D./M.A./M.F.A.

Location: Frasch 106
Date: Thursdays: July 7 & 14
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Cost: $45

Do you want to be a published author? Get guidance on how to write a successful query letter, book synopsis, or book proposal by studying real ones that worked. Then, get personalized feedback and critique on your own query letter, book synopsis, or book proposal. come join us as we explore how the publishing world works and how you can become a part of it.

Writing Your Life Book
Instructor: Janice Repka, J.D./M.A./M.F.A.
Location: Drew 110
Date: Saturdays, July 9, 16, 23, 30, Aug. 6
Time: 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Cost: $68
Would you like to create a keepsake to preserve all of the wonderful family stories floating around in your head? Participants in this introduction to memoir writing class will take part in exercises and enrichment activities designed to immortalize their life stories on the page. Whether you’d like to create a lasting memory about your life for your children, grandchildren, or for your own reflection, you are welcome to join like-minded writers on this exciting story telling and memory preserving journey. Price includes supplies for creating your Life Book.
Additionally, McNeese Leisure Learning offers over 300 online courses, ;
Offered are many writing courses, such as:
beginning writer’s workshop
beginner’s guide to getting published,
introduction to internet writing markets
write your life story,
writing fiction like a pro,
write and publish your own non-fiction book
advanced fiction writing,
The courses which begin monthly are 6-week courses available online 24-7. New lessons are released each Wednesday and Friday.
The Romance Writing Secrets course will be offered in July and August only. So, if anyone is interested, August will be the last time the course is offered.

Romance Writing Secrets
Learn the secrets of writing romance novels that get publishers excited. Facilitated by a bestselling, multi-published romance author, this course will guide you on your road to writing your first romance and getting it published.

Romance writing is the hottest fiction genre going. From Nora Roberts to Jayne Ann Krentz to Linda Howard, readers gobble up romance novels to the tune of $1.2 billion a year. This course starts with the fundamentals of organizing your book, beginning with the overarching theme, and moves on to the basic elements of good storytelling—character development, structuring your plot, internal and external conflict, and point of view. The class then proceeds to the specifics of romance—the importance of writing emotions, love scenes, witty banter, and romantic imagery. The course concludes with hints and tips on getting published within the romance market.

Students will be exposed to real-life examples from popular romance novels and from the instructor’s 12 years of experience as a published author of 39 romance novels.
6 – week course
Session Start Dates:
July 20
August 17
To register for a Leisure Learning Course.

1. Pay with a Visa, MasterCard, Discover by phone, 475-5616, 475-5130 or 800-622-3352, ext. 5616.
2. Fax Registration Form to 337-475-5172.
3. Mail Registration Form to
MSU Leisure Learning
Box 92375
Lake Charles, LA 70609
4. Pay in person at Smith Hall between 7:45 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.

5. Students may register for online classes at
May Poché Gray
Coordinator, Programs & Short Courses
McNeese State University
800-622-3352, ext.5130
Fax: 337-475-5172