Life Writers Video Vlog/Sunday Stories

Welcome to the Life Writers
Vlog & Sunday Stories

with Patricia Charpentier

where every week, you receive writing tips,
inspiration, prompts, book recommendations,
answers to your questions, and fun stories.

 

If you have questions you’d like answered in this vlog,
send them to me at patricia@writingyourlife.org.

Episode #71 – “Mistress of Life and Death” – Susan Eischeid

At the end of January, three friends and I went to hear Susan Eischeid discuss her book Mistress of Life and Death about Maria Mandl’s dark journey in the Third Reich.

Episode #70 – Ellipses

In episode seventy of Life Writers Vlog, we explore the versatile ellipsis.

Caution: Deadlines Ahead

At fourteen years old, I decided I wanted to write, specifically write feature stories about people, places, and…

Episode #69 – Why I Write

Today on the Life Writers Vlog, it’s prompt day! Let’s explore the diverse reasons behind writing.

Before Words Hit the Page

Since I switched from writing these Sunday Stories every week to once a month, I’ve noticed it’s much harder to write them.

Episode #68 – EAE Bite #101 – “It’s Just So Unjust”

In this episode of the Life Writers vlog, we explore the subtle words that sneak into our writing and hide right under our noses.

Episode #67 – The Oxford Comma

In episode sixty-seven of the Life Writers Vlog, I address a listener’s questions about…

Episode #66 – “Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls

In episode sixty-six of Life Writers vlog, we dive into Jeannette Walls’ lesser-known masterpiece…

Episode #65 – Body Art

This Thursday Life Writers vlog explores tattoos, body art, ink, tatts, whatever you call them and…

A Clean Slate

Each January, we look back over the past year to see what we’ve accomplished toward our writing goals and where…

Episode #64 – EAE Bite #40 – What Do They Sound Like?

Today, we explore bite #40, “What Do They Sound Like?” which encourages writers to…

Episode #63 – An Alternative to Typing Your Stories

If typing is a challenge, try this alternative.

You Mean Santa Claus Isn’t Real?

The topic of believing in Santa Claus came up, transporting me back to playing with my neighbor-friend Randy Frederick when he told me…

Episode #62 – In a Fisherman’s Language – Captain James Arruda Henry

Let me introduce you to an inspiring autobiography written by an amazing man.

Episode #61 – Your Relationship with Books

I discovered a fascinating tidbit from Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading. He wrote about…

Episode #60 – EAE Bite #120 – Just a Few Scribbles

Bite #120 from “Eating an Elephant,” encourages writers to incorporate…

I’m Kind of a Grinch

I’m kind of a grinch when it comes to the holidays. Well, to tell the truth, I am a grinch.

Episode #59 – Feeling Like an Imposter?

Today, we delve into the insecurities of prolific writer who always felt like an imposter.

They Are Finally Here!

Recently, my husband Bob and I unloaded 1,800 pounds of brand-new five-year journals. Whew and wow!

Episode #58 – Is It Okay to Edit While Drafting a Story?

In this fifty-eighth episode, we explore the question: Is it okay to edit while writing? The short answer…

I Thought I Was Going to a Holiday Party

Weeks ago, my husband Bob told me his salon was having a Christmas party and asked if I wanted to go. Sure, sounds like fun.

Episode #57 – “World of Wonders” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Here we are again to talk about another book I adore…

Episode #56 – The Worst Pain Ever

In 1991, I had a bad horseback riding accident that left me…

It Could Happen Again

Etya Krichmar quieted the Zoom room of our Life Writers open mic night as she read her story, “A World of Darkness.”

Episode #55 – EAE Bite #30, Not Just Adjectives, Baby

In this episode, we talk about spicing up your writing without drowning it in adjectives.

Thank you for your service!

I went to the VA clinic/hospital in Orlando with my husband Bob this week for a routine medical check. Bob has…

Episode #54 – Writing Rituals

Writing is more than just scribbling black marks on white paper; it’s a process. The four steps of the writing process are…

Are You a Pool Person?

I’m not a water person. Since I learned to swim as a kid, I can count the times I bobbed around in a pool on one proverbial hand with a few fingers left over.

Episode #53 – “Where I Come From” by Rick Bragg

Today, I introduce you to one of my two favorite authors–Rick Bragg and his collection of essays…

Defining Success

This morning, I listened to an “influencer” talk about success. He raised the question: What does success mean to us, and how do we define success?

Episode #52 – Home Remedies

On a recent trip to Louisiana, my godmother offered an unusual remedy for my post-Covid cough. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.

Do It Anyway!

I began going to Dance Trance classes in 2008, and I loved it from the beginning. The choreographed, energetic routines…

Episode #51 – Bite #19, A Writing Schedule

Michael Hyatt, author, speaker, and business coach, says, “What gets scheduled gets done.” It works for business, and it works for writing too.

Obsessions

I’m obsessed—with a lot of things. Thankfully, with a lot of help, I grew past my most destructive obsessions. Now, my obsessions are more entertaining, at least to me.

Episode #50 – Writer’s Block

I know you’ve heard other writers say it, and maybe, you’ve even said it yourself: I have writer’s block. 
One viewer asked if writer’s block is a real thing.

A Slothful Weekend

After a stressful couple of months of sickness and my mom’s death, I chose to have a slothful weekend last week. I dragged myself

Episode #49 – “Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant” by Roz Chast

Memoirs come in all shapes and sizes, and I believe there are as many ways to write memoir as there are people to write them.

What Is Home?

Being back in South Louisiana caused me to think about the meaning of home.

Episode #48 – Barefootin’

In our forty-eighth episode of the Life Writers Vlog, we introduce a creative writing prompt titled “Barefootin’.”

Forgiveness

Thank you all so much for the outpouring of love and good wishes sent to me this past week after posting about my mom’s death. I would love to have…

Episode #47 – Bite #85, How to Write a Title

You should always give your stories working titles before you begin to write. You can change the title later, but every story deserves a name. This week's...

Still a Shock

My mom took her last breath at 6:00 p.m. last Wednesday. Even though this was a call I had been expecting for four-plus years, it still came as a shock.

Episode #46 – Exclamation Marks

When there's a fifth Thursday in the month, we look to acclaimed authors for writing advice. Today, we tap into the wisdom of F. Scott...

A Dull Sunday Story

My husband Bob and I just returned from a marvelous trip that took us to eight countries and gave us a world of new experiences. On the island…

Episode #45 – Past or Present Tense

Logically, you'd think all memoir should be written in the past tense because the events happened in the past. But one listener asks, "Do I...

Episode #44 – “The Ride of Our Lives” by Mike Leonard

Whenever you have a chance to hear an author speak in person, do it. It is so worth your time, effort, and gasoline.

Change Your Perspective

My husband Bob and I just returned from a marvelous trip that took us to eight countries and gave us a world of new experiences. On the island…

Episode #43 – It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane!

Today, let’s look to the skies of our memory and recall the wonders we have seen.

If You Like Monkeys…

If you like monkeys, Costa Rica is the place to go! I visited Parador Nature Resort and Spa in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, in June to finalize…

Episode #42 – Bite #165, Tighten Up

This being the first Thursday of the month, we take another bite from my book, Eating An Elephant: Write Your Life One Bite at a...

Episode #41 – Should I write by hand or a computer?

I speak to many different groups about the importance of writing their life stories—writers groups, genealogy groups, civic groups, truly, all kinds of groups. I...

Episode #40 – “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing” by Gary Provost

Usually, I recommend memoirs on the third Thursday of the month, but instead, I will tell you about a little book that has helped me tremendously.

Episode #39 – I Didn’t Know It at the Time

My mom started teaching me to type when I was five years old. My small fingers could barely press down the keys of that old...

Episode #38 – Bite #95, Hold It Up to the Light

Today, our focus is Bite #95, “Hold It Up to the Light,” from Eating an Elephant: Write Your Life One Bite at a Time, and...

Costa Rica…Wow!

How do you feel about trying new things? Some people thrive on the energy derived from tackling something new and unknown. But, if you’re like most…

Episode #37 – Memoir Is a Window

On this fifth Thursday of the month, I want to feature a quotation from William Zinsser, an accomplished journalist and author of On Writing Well,...

Be More Otter-Like

How do you feel about trying new things? Some people thrive on the energy derived from tackling something new and unknown. But, if you’re like most…

Episode #36 – Do I really need to hire an editor?

Do I really need to hire an editor to help me with my book or story collection? I’m asked this question a lot, and there isn’t a clear-cut answer.

Try Something New

How do you feel about trying new things? Some people thrive on the energy derived from tackling something new and unknown. But, if you’re like most…

Episode #35 – “The Puma Years” – Laura Coleman

In Life Writers, we practice close reading as we study a published memoir over several months. Close reading is…

Three Cheers for…

It’s not often you witness someone fulfilling a dream. I had that chance this afternoon. Lon Michael struggled throughout his young life.

Episode #34 – Fathers

When I wake to the sound of construction across the lake, I find it pleasant. Some would find it annoying. The sound of sawing and...

A Dream Fulfilled

It’s not often you witness someone fulfilling a dream. I had that chance this afternoon. Lon Michael struggled throughout his young life.

Episode #33 – Bite #38, Profiling

Today, we crack open Eating an Elephant: Write Your Life One Bite at a Time and look at Bite #38 - Profiling. Profiling is the...

“Wild”

A few weeks ago, I heard Cheryl Strayed, author of the popular memoir, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” speak at the Nonfiction…

Episode #32 – Should I Include Photos in My Stories?

Today, I tackle a common question I hear from people writing their life stories. Should I include photos in my stories?

Rites of Passage

As I banged away on my keyboard this week, I looked at my left wrist and saw a spot. I did what my mother always did to me when I was a kid and had dirt on my face

Episode #31 – “I Could Tell You Stories” – Patricia Hampl

Today, I visited some old book friends from my grad school days and lingered on a collection of essays by Patricia Hampl titled I Could...

In Celebration of Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have children or served as maternal mentors or role models for others. I visited my mom this afternoon…

Episode #30 – Names I’ve Been Called

As we do on the second Thursday of every month, we are going to write in response to a prompt. We've probably been known by...

Mercury in Retrograde

Nearly ten years ago, I offered my first writing challenge. But, if you’re new to Writing Your Life, you might not know what a writing challenge is.

Episode #29 – Bite #112, Come On Over to My Place, Baby

It’s sometimes good to change where we draft our stories, but I think it’s important to have a dedicated space to write as I talk...

What’s a Writing Challenge?

Nearly ten years ago, I offered my first writing challenge. But, if you’re new to Writing Your Life, you might not know what a writing challenge is.

Episode #28 – Do I “Always” Have to Brainstorm?

I am a big believer in brainstorming as a warmup to writing. I encourage people to spend five to ten minutes brainstorming before they write....

So Excited, I Could Just Spit

I fell in love with Costa Rica in 2018 when Bob and I visited the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and many points in between.

Episode #27 – “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I certainly love and respect books and all the wonderful stories they contain. As usual…

Uninspired Writing

Often, something happens during my week, and I know exactly what I want to write my Sunday Story about. Other times, I’m not so lucky....

Episode #26 – Whose Face Do You See?

Have you ever sat down to write but had no idea what to write about? Every second Thursday, we solve that problem for you because...

Sunday Stories: Bunny ears, Easter egg hunts, and cloves

As a kid, Easter was my favorite holiday. It wasn’t just about the candy, which I loved. Gold Brick Eggs, bunny ears, the crunchy bunny...

Episode #25 – Bite #104, Stop in the Middle

Many of us have rituals to begin and end our writing sessions. Today, we're going to talk about how and where you end your writing...

Sunday Stories: Misophonia

I learned a new word the other day: misophonia. Merrium-Webster defines misophonia as “a condition in which one or more common sounds (such as the...

Episode #24 – Anne Lamott’s Writing Wisdom

No matter what class I teach or talk I give, the question always comes up, “How do I write about people in my family?” On...

Sunday Stories: How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

Yesterday, I went to the memorial service for a gentleman who had been in my Orlando writing classes years ago. His name was Al Pfeiffer,...

Episode #23 – How I Started Doing This Work

Whenever I tell someone I help people write their life stories and family histories, they always say: “That’s so interesting. How did you end up...

Sunday Stories: Florida Is Weird, But…

Florida is weird. I’ve lived in Orlando just about as long as I lived in South Louisiana, so I feel entitled to tell the truth...

Episode #22 – “Heart in the Right Place” by Carolyn Jourdan

The memoir I want to share with you this week is Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan. I enjoy passing on books I...

Sunday Stories: Lessons in Letting Go, Part Two

Lessons in Letting Go, Part Two Follow this link to read last week's Sunday Story, Lessons in Letting Go, Part One. One hotel chain has...

Episode #21 – Grief

How do you write the hard things, the emotions you’d rather avoid? Today, we’ll try our hand at it together. From an unlikely source, we...

Sunday Stories: Lessons in Letting Go, Part One

Recently, I had two lessons in letting go. The first involved the Costa Rica writing retreat I had scheduled in…

Episode #20 – Don’t Edit Too Soon

When drafting a story, does it bug you to no end to see a typo or the wrong word in the paragraph you just finished?

Sunday Stories: A Literary Greek, Part Two

A Literary Geek, Part Two Warning: This Sunday Story is long, but you’ll want to read it. Last week, I began the story of meeting...

Episode #19 – When Am I’m Finished?

On this, the fourth Thursday of the month, we answer your writing questions. Today’s question comes from…

Sunday Stories: A Literary Geek, Part One

A Literary Geek, Part One It’s a drizzly Saturday afternoon as I write this. I sit on the second floor of one of my favorite...

Episode #18 – “The Liars’ Club”

Studying–not just reading–a well-written memoir is like taking a master class with the author. Today, we learn from…

Sunday Stories: What’s That Noise?

I kept hearing this loud squawking at dawn every morning and again after dark. I mean, really loud, and I couldn’t…

Episode #17 – Bills I Hate to Pay

On the second Tuesday of the month, we write in response to a prompt, so grab your laptop, pen and paper…

Sunday Stories: Marie and Me

Marie and Me! Thank you to those who missed my Sunday Story last week and asked where it was. I felt excited to hear you...

Episode #16 – Start, Stop, Repeat

Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie McDonald? In it…

Episode #15 – Differing Family Memories

Today’s question is, “What if my family’s memories don’t match my own?”

Sunday Stories: I Love Pelicans

I’ve mentioned before how fortunate we are to live on a lake near downtown Orlando thanks to a generous landlord…

Episode #14 – A Happy Memoir

Do you want to be a strong writer? Reading will help you achieve that goal, which is why we look at a specific memoir and...

Sunday Stories: New Eyes

A couple of weeks ago, a friend told me a story a buddy shared with him. This buddy served in the navy aboard…

Episode #13 – Pickles

Welcome to our second vlog of January 2023. That means it is writing prompt day! Grab your pen and paper, laptop, or whatever you use....

Sunday Stories: Tiny Is Good

Next door to the condo complex where my husband Bob and I live is a tiny house community…

Episode #12 – Make Writing Fun

Can you believe it is 2023? Ready or not, here we are. A new year can be a catalyst for new things, like writing your...

Sunday Stories: I Have a Decision to Make

I Have a Decision to Make I have a big decision to make today. I was a failed journaler for decades, always buying beautiful new...

Episode #11 – Driving at Night

Today, we have the rare treat of a fifth Thursday vlog with writing advice from an accomplished writer. Our spotlight falls on a quote from...

Sunday Stories: Sounds Surround Us

Sounds Surround Us Most mornings, I do a short guided meditation to start my day. I don’t sit on the floor in a lotus position...

Episode #10 – What Can Help Me Write?

Today is the fourth Thursday, so our focus is on answers to your writing questions. I’m often asked, “What’s one thing I can do to...

Sunday Stories: Love to Stare

I love to stare. No, not the creepy, I’m-looking-at-you kind of stare. I love to stare into the distance and allow my mind the freedom to romp…

Episode #9 – “Ava’s Man” by Rick Bragg

How well do you write similes? On this third Thursday, I share a recommended memoir and what you can learn from it. The writer is...

Sunday Stories: Florida’s Two Seasons

Florida's Two Seasons We have two seasons in Florida. The beautiful one we’re in now is the this-is-why-I-live-here season. It starts sometime in November if...

Episode #8 – Scars Tell a Story

Have you heard the phrase cat got your tongue? As life story writers, I suppose it would be more like blank page got your pen....

Episode #7 – Bite #4, Start Anywhere

How do you know where to start writing your life story? Need help figuring that out? If the thought of writing your life story from...

Episode #6 – Twain’s Writing Wisdom

Mark Twain's Writing Wisdom One of the United States' favorite bards, Mark Twain, offers us great writing advice in the way only he can--with humor....

Episode #5 – No Time to Write

No Time to Write All the time, I hear, "I want to write my life stories, but I never find the time." I understand. Finding time never...

Episode #4 – “The Glass Castle”

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls To be a good life story writer, I believe you have to be a good reader, especially of memoirs....

Episode #3 – Sounds of the Night

Sounds of the Night In episode three of the Life Writers vlog, we are going to dip into a little book of writing prompts I...

Episode #2 – Bite #1, The only way to do this wrong…

The only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all! When a woman in my class asked me to write a...

Episode #1 – Welcome to the Life Writers Vlog!

Welcome to the Life Writers Vlog! If you're not sure what a vlog is, this video answers that question. Plus, I tell you what to...

french bull dog with pencil

The only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all!

Eating an Elephant Front Cover 300 DPIThis is the most important thing you’ll ever hear me say: The only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all! 

So go ahead and write the stories only you can.

You can clean up the grammar, spelling, and punctuation later, but first you have to have something on the page.

From bite #1 of Patricia’s multi-award-winning book, Eating an Elephant: Write Your Life One Bite at a Time.

If you’d like to hear the story behind this saying, click on episode #2 of the Life Writers vlog.