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Winner: best memoir, IndieReader Discovery Awards

Barbara Alfaro, 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir, shares her experiences writing the literature of life.

Barbara Alfaro is a graduate of Goddard College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for her play Dos Madres. Her poems and essays have appeared in various literary journals. The paperback edition of her poems called Singing Magic and the Kindle edition of her poetry called First Kiss are available on Amazon. Mirror Talk, her memoir about a Catholic girlhood and working in theatre won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir and is also available on Amazon. Barbara and her husband Victor live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

LitVote: What prompted you to write your memoir, Mirror Talk?

Barbara: Reading Are You Somebody by the late Irish journalist Nuala O’Faolain affected me deeply. Her memoir is heartbreakingly truthful and I think there is something so noble about that kind of honesty. I wanted to write my memoir in the same honest way.

LitVote: Were you more aware of your feelings about people and events after writing your memoir?

Barbara: I don’t think I became more aware of my feelings about people but I seemed to become more aware of the feelings of others toward me. The vivid remembering that writing memoir requires often brings a new clarity to relationships. I realized how much I was loved. Memoir is not simply putting the past to rest, but in some instances, being comforted by the journey there. I saw the connection between my childhood experiences and adult choices, choices that may have sometimes been far from wise but certainly understandable. And I found a quiet joy in weaving the past and present together.

LitVote: How long did it take you to write your book?

Barbara: Two years although several of the essays were written and published before I began my memoir and some poems I added to it were also written before the memoir.

LitVote: What is one of your favorite parts of the book?

Barbara: The chapter titled “Make Mine Cognac” always makes me smile. It’s a recollection of when I was a young actress in New York. I’d been cast in an experimental play where all the characters were supposed to be symbols. The director told me that the character I played “represented man’s inhumanity to man.” I was very skinny, very shy, and very humane.

LitVote: Why did you decide to weave poems you have written into your memoir?

Barbara: After writing several chapters, I realized I’d visited these memories before in my poetry. The story was there in stanzas not in paragraphs and, of course, I go into more depth in the memoir recollections.

LitVote: Why did you decide to self-publish rather than go the traditional route?

Barbara: Not needing someone else’s approval to publish my work was very appealing.

LiteVote: What are some of the difficulties in publishing an e-Book that authors should know?

Barbara: You need a pretty healthy budget to advertise your book. You also need excellent self-promotion and marketing skills. I, by the way, have none of these. I have confidence in my writing ability, after all, I’ve been doing it since I was seven years old but when it comes to marketing my book, I am a neophyte. And, you can’t be thin-skinned. You have to be able to take it on the chin and not be discouraged by negative reviews or rejection letters.

LitVote: Conversely, what did you like about self-publishing?

Barbara: It was fun to write my book, choose a designer for my cover, and publish it, all a wonderful high. The community of indie authors is a source of ongoing warmth and support. Writing is a lonely profession but having a network of encouraging friends, often electronic pen pals, makes it not quite so lonely.

LitVote: What are your plans for the future?

Barbara: I am writing a paranormal novel tentatively titled Roses and Vices. I don’t intend to self-publish this book but hope instead it will be placed with a traditional publishing house.

You can visit Barbara online at http://www.BarbaraAlfaro.net

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Author Mary Yuhas, has over 87,000 reads on Scribd of the first three chapters of her memoir, QUIT AND BE QUIET, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother.

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