Breathe Life into Your Life Story

In the summer of 2007 my husband and I published a book we wrote together called Breathe Life into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will WANT to Read. We found that writing a book together was nearly as difficult as raising kids together. Frankly, the whole process was a bit like giving birth:when we finally nestled in our hands the shiny, beautiful product of all our hard labor (a three-year gestation period!), we quickly forgot the agony of bringing it to life.

Here’s the blurb our publisher, Signature Books, uses to advertise the book:

Breathe Life BookBreathe Life into Your Life Story is an essential read for anyone who aspires to write a life story–but not just any story, one your family and others will actually WANT to read. Written for both novices and experienced writers, this book presents techniques used by novelists to immerse readers in their fictional world–techniques like “showing” rather than just “telling”; creating interesting believable characters and settings; writing at the gut level; alternating scene and narrative; beginning with a bang; generating tension, and more.

Excerpts from memoirs written by such pros as Maya Angelou, Frank McCourt, Russell Baker, Rick Bragg, and many others illustrate how best-selling authors have used these methods to hook their readers. Dozens of “Learn by Doing” exercises help readers practice and acquire the skills necessary to breathe life into their own stories.

Breathe Life contains all the techniques, examples, and exercises we use in our memoir writing classes and workshops. It’s all there. Most people find it a different kind of book than others in the genre because it focuses on good writing rather merely providing a list of writing prompts.

The following list of chapter titles will give you an idea of what we cover:

  • Breathing Lessons: First Things First
  • The Power of “Showing”: Give Your Story the Breath of Life
  • Life, Camera, Action: Zoom in on Key Events
  • Writing at the Gut Level: Let Your Feelings Show
  • Writing about People: Breathe Life into Your Characters
  • Writing about Places: Put Your Life on the Map
  • Re-Creating Your World: Establish Your Life Context
  • Linking Your Life with History: Where Were You When….
  • The Hitchcock Factor: Rivet Readers with Conflict and Suspense
  • What’s Essential and What’s Not: Cutting the Clutter
  • Beginning with a Bang: Write a WOW Beginning
  • Jump-Starting Your Imagination: Story Ideas for the Stumped
  • Breathing on Your Own: Steady to “The End”

If you want to know more, check out the reviews at or visit my publisher’s website.

Leave a Comment