Memoir: How much of a person’s life is sensationalized or true to his or her life?

LOVE The Beat Goes On is my first memoir. It was difficult to write at times. But when your doctor gives you a “6-months to live” diagnosis in 2008, I writing my memoir would be an inspiration. I felt compelled to share HOPE.

The easy part was telling the story. But here are the things that really make it hard:

  1. When you write a memoir, there’s nowhere to hide.
  2. Be authentic. If you are bull-xxiting, the reader will know it.
  3. Is it true to life? Well if you’ve ever been in an argument with your partner/spouse/lover/sibling you know we all see the same thing from a different point of view.

It’s also difficult because you get a judgment on yourself. Think about that. I’ve got 16 books published on Amazon. That’s a lot of writing, a lot of readers, fans, reviews. And one negative review sticks out. The person who wrote the review said I was a “woman of passion and privilege.” I loved the passion because this is very true. But the privilege? I can’t tell you how much that hurt. I’m an army brat, child of an alcoholic father. I had a life of loneliness and horrific family arguments in my teenage years. Everything I ever got I worked my butt off to achieve. But when you put yourself out there, people will react to your narrative in different ways.

So, is it sensationalized or true to his or her life?

Your question intrigued me. I’m currently writing a second memoir. I sold everything last year 2019. I was living in Mexico, gave up my career in sales, and decided to travel to Europe, India, Asia, Malaysia and the Middle East. My entire world has been turned upside down for that decision. I now live in Istanbul, Turkey, and am in love with a man who is decades younger than me. Do I have a story to share? Oh yeah. I don’t need to sensationalize it.

My life is incredibly amazing and I’ve been blessed with the best and worst events. But I wouldn’t trade any of it. Not one single thing. I hope the authenticity of my words will shine through on the final draft of my manuscript. I can’t wait to share my story with the world.

We all have a story to share. Maybe you will be next.

Day 36/37 I’ve lost count. Lockdown in Istanbul if you are over 65. My first stop when they lift this quarantine will be the hairdressers!

Thanks for reading.

If you’ve always wanted to write, here’s how I started.

I started with Xposed the first book in the Code Raven Series. I had so much fun creating Luke Raven, Samaar and their cohorts (billionaire patriot, spies, ex-SEALS, ex-Mossad agent, a brilliant techie)that I wanted to keep on writing! My readers loved it and it was really their comments “What’s next?” “I can’t wait to read more!” “I’m addicted to Luci/Samaar” that determined the direction of the stories.

I thought it would be a one-off book (Xposed) but by the third one, I knew I needed to do a Prequel. So I wrote the background story, how Raven made his billions and the horrific event that propelled him to form his Raven Group.

The series started as novellas, morphed into full novels because that’s what my readers asked for. Now I use this prequel for anyone new to the series to set the stage. With the prequel, a reader can start anywhere in the series and still enjoy the exciting ride. There’s a link to the free prequel on my Bio.

If you click on my profile you will find a link to my Amazon page for 16 books that I’ve written. I also found in my contemporary romance books that one was not enough. I think today’s market is accustomed to series, episodes like Netflix and Prime and they want more than a one-off book. I also wrote a memoir about the time in my life in 2008 when I was given 6 months to live! And in the past month, I’ve written a second memoir about the last 14 months of my life! I sold everything I owned in Mexico and bought a one-way ticket to multiple destinations in the world. I thought I might settle and write in Bali. I never made it there. I fell in love with a guy and a city, Istanbul, and here I am!

Whatever you decide to do, if you would like your work to be commercial, think about your audience. Who are your writing for and what will they expect from your genre?

And most of all, have fun!

Here’s how I’m dealing with Covid-19

How about you?

Can I ask if this is a safe place to open up?

Since I can’t hear your response, I will imagine you nodding “yes.”

First, I’m a foreigner living in a Middle Eastern country. That’s curious enough and a surprise to me as well as it is to anyone who knows me. And second, I’m in a high-risk age group of the population. But, I LOVE Istanbul and I feel safe here and yet, afraid at the same time. If I allow myself to look at the negatives, I will drive myself crazy—and raise my BP. I don’t speak the language. Would that matter if I had C-19 symptoms and showed up at a hospital? But I also feel super secure in the fact that the health care system is one of the best in the world. And the Turkish people take care of their own. And as long as I’m living in their country, I’m certain they will take care of me.

So here’s what I’m doing.

First, I got my hair done yesterday. And then walked to my neighborhood Starbucks. It was business as usual but fewer people on the streets. Still, I nodded at the familiar smiling faces and thanked the staff at Starbucks by slipping an extra big tip in their jar when they weren’t looking. I know it will be lean times for all workers over the next few weeks. Some businesses are already closed down.

It was freezing out and windy but I’m grateful for the fact that I’m healthy and can walk and afford to go to the hairdressers, the pharmacy and Starbucks.

I glanced across the street and witnessed this. It the first time I’ve seen this in Istanbul.

“There, but for the grace of God…” It made my heart hurt. What will the poor people and the refugees do during this scary time?

Further on my walk I looked up and saw these event posters hanging everywhere.

I LOVE YOU. And that made my heart sing.

I came to a decision yesterday. In life we always have choices. I chose to be the LIGHT, I will do what I’ve always done. I will put my own fears aside and show strength and compassion.

So I opened up my computer and did a FB Live. I said hi to friends and readers of my novels and memoir that I’ve met from all over the world. I connected and made people smile. Then I shared something I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert—the author of Eat Pray Love—she called it a grounding technique to bring us back into the present.

And now I will share it with you.

5 4 3 2 1

Name 5 things you can see right now. I. I see the sun streaming in through my loft window landing on my white cotton comforter on my bed 2. I see a colorful pocket notebook with Istanbul and a sketch of the Hagia Sophia on the cover 3. I see my iPad where I have a thousand books and several I have not yet read so I know what I will do with my time if I self-isolate 4. I see photos in a stack in front of me, the only things I kept from my past when I packed my suitcase and left my life in Mexico to travel in 2019 5. I see the fresh coffee I just made from the extra bags of beans I bought at Starbucks yesterday.

Name 4 things you can hear right now. 1. I hear the hum of the heater—it’s cold today. I’m so grateful to have electricity. 2. I hear the Call to Prayer at the Mosque. I know Muslims all over the world will stop and say their prayers in the privacy of their offices or homes because groups are forbidden by the Iman during this time of the virus. 3. I can hear a seagull calling. The Bosphorus Strait is at the end of my street 4. I can hear the keyboard click as I type each word and hope I’m inspiring you.

Name 3 things you feel right now. 1. I feel happy because my boyfriend came over last night and made me laugh and helped me get centered. 2. I feel loved and cherished to know that someone cares that I’m okay. 3. I feel purposeful because I made a decision in the midst of my anxiety that I would do what I do best and spread LIGHT and LOVE.

Name 2 things you can smell right now. 1. My steaming black coffee 2. My Chanel Chance perfume that I put on my neck just for me.

Name 1 thing you can taste right now. I can taste the bananas with honey sprinkled with Chia seeds that I’m eating while I write this piece for you.

And finally, since it’s the eve of my BIRTHDAY, this is my birthday wish:

I will send an intention out to the Universe that when this virus is finally under control, governments, countries, and people can somehow begin to truly embrace the fact that #weareallone.

As always, thanks for reading. And if you’re looking for something to read. ULTIMATUM Code Raven 3 is free right now!

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO LIVE IN A WAR ZONE?

Write about what you love to read but that doesn’t mean you have to LIVE there!
Life imitates Art.
In 2019 I sold everything I owned and began a journey to visit places I’d read and written about. I started in the city known around the world as the place they assassinated John F. Kennedy. Who could forget the book on the Warren Commission? I traveled across the ocean to the home of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And relaxing on the beaches of Goa, India I read Paulo Coehlo’s Hippie. I celebrated my birthday in a country that’s home to a master spy the great art restorer Gabriel Allon, the covert operative who came in from the cold to run the Office, Israeli Intelligence.  I thought I might live and write in Bali, so after Thailand, I had no return ticket!  But nothing had prepared me for a quick layover in the mysterious historical city of Istanbul exactly one year ago. Instead of Bali, I returned to Istanbul and wrote my own my own mystery,  Code Raven 7,THE ISTANBUL CONSPIRACY. 

   Did you know that part of Istanbul is in Europe but the majority of the city is in Asia? I thought I was living in Europe, and technically geographically, I am. But to make it even more confusing, Turkey is actually in the Middle East! My friends and readers should no longer be surprised by my lifestyle. Somehow I knew that I might find one of the most vibrant cities of the world too intriguing to pass up. So here I am. Coronavirus has hit Iran with a bang, and the border between Turkey and Iran is closed indefinately. Refugees are surging along the highways to get to Europe via the border entry for Greece. And an additional one million frightened and displaced men, women, and children are desperate to escape the violence of war in Syria. The foreign aid can’t begin to cover the poor souls living in appalling conditions along the Syrian/Turkish border. And two days ago Turkey raided and arrested 105 Feto Terrorists in a secretive co-ordinated sweep through the country. How did I find out? Social Media was blocked for several hours. I had a strange feeling about it–I remember reading that Turkey blocked social media during the Coup attempt of 2016. At first, there was no announcement or anything. We all thought our networks were down. But then I found a notice on some obscure news service. I thought blackout might have to do with Turkey’s military action in Syria. But now I’m certain the block was done so communications could not transpire between terrorist groups while Turkey swooped in and grabbed them. So what’s it like living in Istanbul with the COVID-19  border closure on the Iranian side, an angry tear-gas-shooting Border Patrol on the Greek side, and Syria slaughtering its own people in the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII? It’s surreal. To top things off, I live one block from the Bosphorus Strait and I witnessed this two days ago: Russian Warships coming through the strait!! Wait a minute, didn’t the Russian backed Syrian Regime just kill 33 Turkish soldiers in Syria? Just another day in the life of an author when the truth is stranger than fiction. 
Russian Warships passing through the Bosphorus Strait Feb. 28 2020
The ISTANBUL CONSPIRACY free to read on KINDLE UNLIMITED Amazon

If good girls are bad girls that haven’t got caught…

Are you afraid of getting old?

I’ve obsessed over my body my entire life. Until I found a very special kind of love.

Here’s a photo of me at 9 years of age. I think that’s around the time I became aware of how important body image was to me.

I never thought I was beautiful. But I can see in this picture I was cute! This photo was taken in 1956, I was 9, well before the internet. I don’t remember any body-shaming or certain ideals that we had to conform to in our era. The insecurity was all inside of me.

I’ve never been an athlete although I danced when I was young — you can see from my ballerina stance. So the physical things that many might miss as they age have never bothered me. But I’ve always been ‘on a diet’ which is a pathetic way to go through life. I’ve never been fat! But again, it’s the feeling of never being enough — pretty enough, skinny enough, talented enough — a woman’s insecurity for sure.

At some point in life, I realized I had to find that confidence inside myself to understand and love myself exactly the way I am.

1994 driving across Canada from Montreal to Whistler, BC after losing my fashion business and declaring personal bankruptcy. I have a Ph.D. in Starting Over.

I am not my physical body.

I’m a woman of many talents and lots of heart. I would say that since I was given 6 months to live in 2008, I’ve finally got a grip on my physical selfI stopped angsting over whether I could ski from the top of Blackcomb mountain to the base without stopping — who cares? I stopped worrying about old age because I might not live to experience old age. And I vowed to get a grip on my emotional insecurities and do the things I’d always wanted to do! I made a promise to myself to publish my poetry (the way I journaled my life) and then moved on to write and publish novels. In other words, I made a decision that I would not allow the physical parts of aging to define me. Instead, I would go deeper into what I was born to do, to inspire and motivate myself and others, to spread love and compassion — to make a difference in the world, no matter how small.

People tell me all the time that I am beautiful. I will be 73 in 3 weeks. I hear this more today than ever before in my life. Why? I believe it’s a smile that’s sincere, and a life purpose that shines through my eyes. These are gifts that I’ve earned through years of mistakes and disappointment.

I refuse to dwell in that place of “my body is aging” instead I say “I’m so grateful for second chances.” I’m happy my instincts send me to a doctor when something physical needs attention. But most of all, I give thanks daily for my outlook in life.

I will not allow the actions of others to define my emotional well-being. I’m not saying that’s an easy thing — I’ve worked hard to overcome past pain and current disappointments. I still have a child-like wonder and joy of a world that still has so much to show me, and people I have yet to meet. I will always have places I have to visit even if they are only blocks away from where I live. And I have a curiosity about everything and continue to learn new things daily.

I finally retired from my day job at the end of 2018. I sold everything I owned and bought an airplane ticket with no return destination. I left Mexico where I’d lived for 18 years, celebrated my 72nd birthday in Tel Aviv, and after I’d traveled for a few months, returned to Istanbul where I am today. Eighteen months ago I didn’t know where Turkey was on the world map!

Curiosity and attitude will truly sustain me and keep me off the ‘pity-party’ wagon as my body ages.

And if my mind goes, so be it — I won’t know what I’m missing anyway!

I only have one question:

If good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught, where will the good girls go when we die?

Istanbul 2020.

How Can 63,000 people disappear?

The NYT recently featured an article on the Mexican drug wars. The statistics are startling. Until a year ago, the official number was 40,000 but with the change of regime last year, the true stats are being released. The official tally is now 61,637 people who have disappeared since 1964, Ms. Quintana said, the vast majority of disappearances are since 2006, the year the crackdown on drug cartels was launched by then-president Felipe Calderón. I think the total is much higher.

Pixabay

I lived and worked in the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta from 2002. I never witnessed any violence of any kind. But, when you are not actively looking to score, you are unlikely to meet those that sell or transport the product. Still, the overall feeling of danger persists in the small drug towns up in the mountains.

In the early 2000’s I met a man we will call “Carlos.” He worked in a bar/restaurant and came from the small mountain villages where drugs are grown and trafficked. I didn’t know any of this at the time. However, as a writer with a vivid imagination, I began to piece together a story of his life. It began with the murder of both his parents, and how he grew up on the streets of Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, one of the most violent states in Mexico. His story and his romance with a writer became the award-winning novel TARGET in the SUN. Target is FREE to download on Amazon right now.

The second book in my series, VANISHED in the SUN continues the story of Mia and Carlos and is based on one of the most horrendous disappearance cases of the drug wars. In 2014 43 students from Ayotzinapa were attacked and kidnapped by local police officers working for a local drug gang in southern Mexico. Their bodies were never found.

When you write contemporary fiction, somewhat based on fact, and running through the story is the story of an extremely unlikely couple, it’s difficult to classify the books. Are they Romantic Suspense? Contemporary Romance? Contemporary Fiction?

TARGET in the SUN is free today. You will be pulled into their story as I was when I wrote the book.

Comments on the books:

Gripping and suspenseful, clever and sharp, Target in the Sun is a romance thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed the format, telling parts of the story through letters. I also enjoyed how smoothly it read, the type of book that sucks you in. Highly recommended. ” Vine Voice

“I never expected such a compelling story. The book is written in a very unique style; told from the perspective of three characters through using e-mails and journals as well as narrative. It’s much more than a romance; it’s the story of people struggling to make sense of their complex lives.
From his childhood through his life Carlos is a forceful character. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by him. His eventual relationship with the older American woman, Mia, is just a drop in the swirling ocean of his life. As I read I found myself unable to put the book down wondering what would happen to them, would they end up together, would one or both die? It created a delightful tension. Then there is Lucia, a highly decorated FBI agent who puts her life on the line to help the lovers escape the dark past Carlos carries with him. What impact would her unprecedented actions have on her life and career? She is also an intriguing character. After the events of 9/11 she seems to change. Using her relationships with Tony, Michael, and Israel, Filler creates a character that is complex.
Creating a character who is involved in the drug trade yet remains a sort of hero is a challenge most authors would not attempt. Filler not only attempts but succeeds in the effort. The inevitability of Carlos becoming involved in the “family business” is offset by his growing feelings for Mia.
” E. H. Newton

It’s all my fault…

This afternoon I was on the tram on my way to Taksim Square in Istanbul. I had a meeting in a place I’d never been to and I had to do something I’ve never done before. I was nervous and focused on the task.

I arrived at my location and suddenly, in the midst of hundreds of people coming and going, I stopped. I panicked and pulled out my cell phone to make notes.

I could see the scene. I could hear the screams and watch the tragedy unfold. The horrific event was happening in the middle of a face-time video conversation between one of the members of my Raven Group operatives. I even caught the conversation. I have no idea what any of it meant but I knew it was the opening of my next Code Raven 8 book!

The thing is, I’m in the middle of writing a second memoir. It’s going so well and I’m caught up in Rumi, and Turkey and how a nice Catholic girl ends up living in the Middle East. The absolute last thoughts I’m having are of a world-wide disaster that will require my Raven Group to get to the bottom of this brutal act.

But there it is. What can an author do? I’m powerless to the magic that unfolds when this happens. And it’s all my fault. I’ve allowed my Muse to have her way with me far too often. So she thinks she can interrupt my lovely non-fiction project and my very busy afternoon at a government office to insert a new thriller/suspense plot in my psyche!!

My writer’s day is never done—my Muse sleeps with me too!

https://amzn.to/36G0KkY

As a creative writer, what is your day like?

Major procrastination.

Like right now! I should be working on a new Memoir. But, I’m checking out Quora, eating breakfast, trying to make sense out of World Politics and man’s determination to kill. Sometimes I wonder if as a society we’ve progressed at all.

I retired from a full-time career a year ago. And traveled for months to all parts of the world. So I haven’t quite fallen into a routine workday. I love this newfound freedom and the 10 extra pounds that go with it. And the decision to live in Istanbul for the foreseeable future.

I’ve given myself permission to LOVE my current lack of schedule. However, I have a new release The Istanbul Conspiracy, that came online at Amazon Christmas Day. I purposely gave myself a deadline and the pressure of making sure I was ready.

Now I have fallen into a schedule that looks like this. I have 3 distinct projects every day.

  1. Yoga for 30 minutes the moment I wake up.
  2. Coffee, Breakfast, World news, Q, FB and I limit that fun to 1 hour
  3. Write. I have 2 Code Ravens to publish this year. And another memoir. I’ve already published 16 books on Amazon. I’m doing the memoir first. But if I need a break, I will work on the two plots for the CRaven series books 8 and 9.
  4. I take breaks for WordWars—I admit I’m addicted to the game even with the new site full of advertisements that drive me crazy!
  5. I allow myself the indulgence of Prime Video or Netflix but more than likely this pastime is saved for late evening.
  6. I have a boyfriend who is low maintenance so every couple of days he shows up in my world which is great. I get a break. Plus he loves food and takes me to all his favorite Turkish restaurants.

My body refuses to adjust to Istanbul time or a work schedule like I might have maintained when I lived in Mexico. That means my body believes bedtime is around 2–3 am and wakeup somewhere between 10:45-11:30 am.

It’s not unusual for me to write or do marketing in the evening and I will work sometimes up until midnight. (I’m self-published and marketing is a large part of my job.)

I LOVE my life! I’m living the dream.

My New Years’ resolution is to have more DISCIPLINE! Hah!

I hope in the end it is a LOVE STORY

A photo-diary of a Creative in Istanbul on New Years Eve

Lynda Filler

I changed my hair color three times this year. Pink, burgundy and now blue!

This shot reminds me of an old Flemish painting…. I have no idea why…

There is a sense of peace in a city (Istanbul) where the buildings have been around for centuries.

Even the nights are filled with color.

A quote on why I write. This year on Dec. 25th I published my 16th book on Amazon: The Istanbul Conspiracy.

I celebrated my 72nd birthday in Tel Aviv.

from Quora.

An Assassination and a Funeral

In the fall of 1995, Nov. 4th, to be exact, the Prime Minister of Israel was assassinated.

I remember driving the Sea-to-Sky highway from Whistler British Columbia to Vancouver Airport. I was going to a funeral.

The year before, 1994, I went bankrupt. I lost my manufacturing business in Montreal and my home. My husband and I packed our suitcases and took our two young boys across Canada to start all over again. I’m good at re-inventing myself. I’ve done it several times during my lifetime.

I had charmed my way into a top job in Whistler BC. In those days, if you were female and in charge of a multi-million-dollar sales team, you were a Bitch. When I think back to those days, I might have been tough; but I was a very Successful Bitch! And my boys and husband and I were happy with our new life.

Then I received a phone call. My Dad was dead.

My father fought in the Canadian army during WWII, and he was also a UN peacekeeper in the Middle East. The military moved us every three years. I’m sure this is familiar to many who lived the military life in the ’50s and ’60s.

I skipped the hippie years. I was too busy being a ‘good girl’ and too afraid to smoke pot or do drugs, or drop out, or experience free love—I made up for the ‘free love’ thing over the years! As an adult, I divorced like we moved, often, and never looking back.

My fondest memories of my father were him sitting in his lazy-boy chair, smoking his cigarettes surrounded by newspapers. He was a brilliant man, a techie—Morse Code guy in his time. He would have loved the Internet! I was never sure what he did in London during the war, but I have my suspicions. No one knew for sure. I think he was a spy, decrypting coded messages.

But in my memories, my Dad was always talking about world events. He gave up alcohol in the ’80s, because it almost killed him, and pretended to give up smoking. But we could smell it on his clothes when he would come up from his basement workroom. So, not long after re-inventing my life and moving to Western Canada, I got the phone call. My Dad was dead. And a couple of days later, so was Yitzhak Rabin, the PM of Israel.

It’s strange how the mind works. Growing up with my father was challenging. We always fought—he was drunk by dinner time, and I often left the table in tears. But I know he loved me with everything he was capable of giving. And I’m thinking about him tonight on New Year’s Eve.

Every time I release a new Code Raven novel (spies and current event-related mysteries and suspense), I think of my father. Driving along the Sea-to-Sky highway in November of 1995, Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated. And through my tears, for my Dad, I smiled and thought to myself: My Dad will have someone to talk politics in Heaven, or wherever you go in the afterlife.

1949… Petawawa, Canada.