Loving life and holding frauds accountable

The Chattanooga adventure is almost over, sadly. I have had so much fun here!

But before I start the slide show and rave about yesterday, can I just say how irritated I am at Margaret Jones, who wrote a fake memoir about being a foster child and in a gang and got caught? I have never been a fan of the memoir (say it with a snotty French accent, please) genre. I prefer my stories well-defined: write an autobiography or write fiction if you want me to read it. I think that some memoirists have hidden in the murky fog of their genre because they either a) don’t have a true story compelling enough to stand alone as autobiography, or b) they are not skilled at fiction writing.

I hope the publisher considers legal action against Ms. Jones for committing fraud. I think it’s time to call a halt to the silliness.

Back to Tennessee…

Image and video hosting by TinyPic It has been so nice to get an early peek of Spring.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The day started at Girls Preparatory School, where I spoke to 700 girls who were way too enthusiastic for that early in the morning.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They made it really fun to be up on stage. They also made me want to have one of those cute plaid skirts.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The second school was amazing – the Hamilton County Adult High School. This is a special high school for young adults, ages 17-21, who didn’t do well in a traditional high school setting, but are motivated to finish their educations. (They don’t have their backs to me, here. They’re listening to a comment from the principal.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I spoke with 50 students who had studied SPEAK in their English class.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Because they have so much life experience, we had a great conversation. Say hi to Heather, in the plaid coat, who did a really nice job introducing me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLast night I spoke to an audience of mostly University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students. This little guy, Tyler, is not one of them, but his mom is. He and his brother sat quietly through my whole speech. When I met them after, it was clear why they sat so still – they are artists.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Can’t talk about a trip without talking about the food. Lunch was incredible tomato-artichoke soup at Rembrandt’s. If anyone has a recipe for this, please share.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Dinner was chicken and rice casserole, roasted sweet potatos, broccoli casserole, and lacey corn bread, which is like a giant potato chip, but made from corn.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And I finally ate banana pudding, which is very sweet. (That is hummingbird cake in the background.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The inside of my banana pudding, which had fewer bananas than I expected and a whole lot more custard and cookie-crust. Perhaps they should call it, Thinking-About-Banana Pudding.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here is the best part of the trip, my new friend, Dr. Fran Bender, the UTC professor who worked so hard to get me here. I am already excited about seeing Fran and Dr. Verbie Prevost at ALAN in San Antonio, TX, where I will introduce them to David Gill and they can talk South while I listen.

One more school left to visit this morning, then a mad dash to the airport where I hope the plane is brave enough to fly me home through the bad weather.

I forgot to post my resolution update yesterday:

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 9 – Miles Run: 15, YTD: 196 (kind of bummed at the low mileage, but I had to finish the draft.)
Week 9 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 63

24 Replies to “Loving life and holding frauds accountable”

  1. Arrgghghg that memoir thing is frustrating. Don’t memoirs sell well? I know I like to read them. Maybe these writers are hoping they’ll hit success? If Frey’s book had been labeled as fiction, I doubt it would’ve done so well– the writing in the book wasn’t that great.

    And then on another level, I feel kind of pissed off that someone would fake something like a Holocaust survival.

    1. EXACTLY!!! They are afraid the book won’t sell well enough if they are honest and admit it is fiction. That is so crass and despicable it makes me want to throw things.

      And don’t even get me started about the fake Holocaust memoir. Because I really will start throwing things and I am in an airport right now and I don’t want to upset the security guards.

  2. I think that some memoirists have hidden in the murky fog of their genre because they either a) don’t have a true story compelling enough to stand alone as autobiography, or b) they are not skilled at fiction writing.

    DAAAAAAANG!!!!!!!! That’s harsh! Though, yeah, did you see that author that spelled it “memoire?” Doo-doo! Maybe made-up memoirs are spelled with an “e” to differentiate those that are actually based on truth that the author actually experienced (memoirs). Hmmmm…..


    I HATE it when nanner puddin’ lacks an essential ingredient. I went to a nasty buffet once and they had something called “banana pudding” that turned out to be just banana flavored pudding. No bananas. No vanilla wafers. Was that hummingbird cake good?

  3. Obviously, I was not a memorable student. I had Drs. Bender and Prevost in class–I think. It’s been awhile, and my memory’s a bit foggy. Maybe I should write a memoir.

    That nanner pudding looks a little too French-ified for me.

  4. Welcome to MI

    Hi Laurie,

    Memoirs can be such a gray area. Sadly some people interpret creative non-fiction to extremes. Will her sales go down, or will the publicity generate more. Any publicity can be good publicity…

    I’ve been reading through your books, and love the voice in each. I heard you speak at SCBWI-MI in the fall, and am pleased to see you’ll be back for your tour in March. We talked about the Deadwood Writers, a group that supports each other in growing as writers through discussions and book studies. I’ve compiled their questions and have the 3 to send. Sadly, I misplaced the email you gave me. Is there a way I can still get these to you? I want the Deadwood members to meet you at one of the sessions you’ve scheduled. Your response to their questions would generate excitement for them to come.

    I’m looking forward to your MI visit.

    1. Re: Welcome to MI

      Oh, and the “memoirist”? Her publishers have pulled her book off the shelves. Totally. Because she lied to them.

      I know there is a little wiggle room in creative non-fiction, but it’s always made me nervous. This woman’s book is the example of what I knew would eventually happen.

  5. At last! Someone who agrees with me about memoirs. No offense meant to any writers of them, but they have never appealed to me. My first thought when reading one is always, “But how can you remember all of that? That’s impossible. Did you record every moment of your life?” Fiction I love, autobiographies are great, but mixing them just makes me angry, for some reason. It’s like I’m being lied to. *shrugs*

    Your trip sounds like it’s been fantastic! Hope your plane is/was very brave! The little plane that could!

  6. I love those Tennessee cherry blossoms. Our first crocuses are popping up this week. I think flowering plants carry the muse. (Don’t forget to look for your daffodils again this spring!)

      1. That’s a cherry tree. Redbud trees are…well…redder. Pictures like that make me miss home…ours aren’t blooming here yet.

      2. It’s a bit hard to tell on an Internet photo, but yes, I would say cherry. I don’t think you’re losing it though. Redbuds are similar, but their blossoms tend to cluster closer to the branches.

  7. I’m so depressed about the memoir fraud, mostly because I have a friend who has sold hers (and is in the last round of edits) and it’s amazing. It’s going to be one of those epic, amazing classics that everybody reads and then it gets made into a movie. But all the frauds out there are hurting the industry and the genre. I have to wonder how many people have stopped reading altogether because they don’t trust authors anymore. I mean, it’s the number one rule – the reader has to trust that the author won’t lead them astray or pop any out of context surprises on them. They are breaking our most heart-felt and cardinal rules. They should be whipped with wet noodles.

    Glad you got to eat at Rembrandt’s – that’s one of my favorite areas in Chattaboogie. Man, I need to get my tushie back up there…

  8. I heard about the memoir thing and I don’t think it’s sickening to want your book to sell but it’s really wrong for her to cause all those people to believe she actually went through those experiences. I mean, if she wants a best seller she needs to write it to the best of her ability, label it for what it is, and just hope (that’s kind of all you can do from then). If it’s meant to be a best seller, it will be. I think it’s even worse that she had to get sold out by her sister, although I think I would do the exact same thing if I was her.

  9. TV Interview Online Right Now

    I’m Mike Miller, from Mocs News in Chattanooga. You can watch my interview with Laurie Halse Anderson at:


    It’s near the end of the newscast; fast-forward to the last few minutes to see it.

    And let me say, seriously, it was the best interview I’ve ever done. Laurie was fantastic; she gave the best answers I’ve ever heard.

  10. Hey! I go to GPS and really enjoyed your talk. 🙂 Thanks for coming by, and glad you liked the south!

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