Aug 16, 2012

Spotlight of the Week Lynn Cook Henriksen

Dolly, what a distinct pleasure to be invited to your delightful Hibiscus House to give your readers a glimpse into writing the Mother Memoir. You asked me to provide personal information to get things rolling: Who am I and how and why did TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit come about?

I was born in Oregon, lived there until I was eight-years-old. Figure that's why  love the  rain. Then the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota was home until I was 20. I grew up surrounded by good, hard-working people whose hand-shakes were more trustworthy than a contract is today.  But I've learned I can do without so much snow. For the past 30 years, the San Francisco Bay area has been my paradise, and I see no reason to ever leave.
I have three passions, other than family: rhubarb pie, sourdough bread, and inspiring daughters and sons to write true tales about none other than the person who gave them life.   At the end of this article, I’m adding a link to my mother’s recipe for rhubarb pie that I recently posted on my Story Woman blog, because I know Dolly is always cooking up good things in the kitchen. I’ve also been known to bake a mean sourdough bread, when I have time, which isn’t often enough sometimes to even keep my sourdough starter alive! Very silly picture of me below with a just baked rhubarb pie, but you can see my glee as my fork is poised to dive straight in!

 Over a decade ago, after three years as caretaker of my mom and witnessing Alzheimer’s disease ravage her mind, I discovered a profound way to keep our mothers’ spirits alive. Mom was my muse. She’s also on the cover of my book, not because it’s a memoir about her, although two stories of her are included, but because I think the photo encompasses the spirit of Mother Memoir.  Ship slipping through the vastness of the sea.  Soaring birds, silhouetted by endless sky. Feminine spirit in contemplation.

Using the method I developed, to creatively write memoir, scores of daughters and sons have learned how to capture in brief memoirs the memories and feelings they never thought they could record.  They began to call me The Story Woman, and, at their urging, I wrote a guidebook, “TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit,” published March 2012. It includes 40 stories written by inspired TellTale Souls woven throughout the prompts and exercises.

Who is she, your mother, deep down inside? How will she be remembered? Why does it matter?  These are questions only you can answer, but to show you how to begin to find the answers, I’m inviting you to join me on one of the most valuable rides you’ll ever take. You’ll find yourself traveling over emotional terrain to access the deepest spiritual truths of your first, in many ways most intimate, relationship. The journey begins with one question:
“If you could tell just one small story that would capture your mother’s character and keep her spirit alive, what would it be?”
You, and only you, have the power and the voice (you do, you really do) to write about the truths you’ll find when you tap memory and write a bio-vignette about your mother using my innovative TellTale Souls method for creatively writing memoir.
The place to starting writing anything at all, be that nonfiction or fiction, is with your mother (or a mother figure) because she gave you life.  And best way to ensure your mother’s spirit, as you see it, is remembered is through story.
You can do it, and this really is the place to start. I didn’t set out to write a book, much less two, and I’m not saying it was easy by any stretch of the imagination.  But my writing paid off. Not only did it inspire many touching Mother Memoirs, but my guide book, set in Five Acts, or step to success, won “Best Books of Spring” in the how-to category by San Francisco Book Festival 2012.
I write, blog, and lead writing workshops and story salons because I’m filled with a burning desire to guide people to that tender spot deep inside to locate striking memories and then to show them how to move even the hint of fragrance, the turn of a phrase, the hum of a tune, the flash of an eye, the back of a hand, or a fragment of family ritual, temporarily eclipsed in memory, into a successful and unforgettable short, true tale. Mother Memoir has the power to move people and change awareness.
You won’t be tracing your mother’s history when writing a Mother Memoir. With the TellTale Souls method you’ll chose an anecdote, a ritual, perhaps several significant memories grouped together that in the telling will leave the reader with a lasting impression of her inner-most spirit and character. Your story is a gift in the present and for future generations.
I wanted to demystify the writing process for would-be writers as well as for professional writers who appreciate this new slant on creatively writing memoir that captures character and spirit in an innovative way.
You’ll find your way to composing this valuable written record by way of specific triggers and unexpected impressions that will emerge and evolve as you embrace new ways to discover your mother’s individuality and write to tell about it.
A bio-vignette, of just two to five pages is within reach, and I know you’ll learn to trust that you do have what it takes to write this one true story capturing your mother’s character and spirit, as only you can. No one else can write the story you will write. Wouldn’t it be a shame not to write your Mother Memoir? For daughters whose mothers are still living—each of you ask your mother to write a bio-vignette about her mother, grandmother, or another woman holding a significant place in her life so you’ll always have that story, too.
Pam’s Mother Memoir, Traveling to the Ocean, is in the guidebook:

Dana’s Mother Memoir, Pot O’Gold, is another of the 40 stories interwoven in the guidebook:

The photo below is yours truly signing books at the launch of “TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit.”

River Jordan, a true southern treasure and  best-selling author, had this to say, “Rarely does a book carve out a unique place for itself within the hallowed halls of writerly advice and wisdom, yet Ms. Henriksen has fearlessly stepped into uncharted, original waters with TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir. Not only is this a book for me to recommend to the many people interested in writing their own story, but one to keep on my desk as a reference tool to inspire my writing moments. TellTale Souls brings to mind both Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle. It is destined to be one of the classics required to complete the journey for writing the truth and writing it well. I’ve discovered a new favorite that incorporates all the aspects of writing I trust and believe in—spirituality, memory, passion, and the power of story!”

Link to The Story Woman Blog:
Link to TellTale Souls Website:
Link to Purchase Award-Winning TellTale Souls guidebook:

Thank you so very much Lynn for sharing so much of yourself with us.  It is such an honor to have you in our Spotlight of the Week.
I can't wait to read this book and hope to stay in contact with you.
Friends isn't this wonderful?  To have a guide, for writing our memoirs to enjoy and for future generations.
If you don't own the book please check it out. 
We at Hibiscus House have a copy that Lynn has signed.  We will be giving it away.  Go Here to enter, and good luck.
Let's start writing!

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