My Memoir

This page is dedicated to the progress of a memoir I am hoping to publish in 2014-ish tentatively titled, Detroit’s Daughter.  The memoir is about hope.  Also, surviving my father, my brother, abuse, racism, Christians, boys, and poverty, while growing up in Detroit.

   Why this page? I need accountability, yo.


July 2, 2013… I’m in the theme building/structure forming phase.  I thought I would hate this phase, but it’s been so interesting and fun to work on.  Don’t know why, but I LOVE chopping whole sections out & kissing them goodbye.  Not everything is good enough for the book, plain and simple.

January 23, 2013…As of Jan. ’13, the book is in 2nd draft form & I’m giving myself another 6 months at least to get it query worthy for agents and eventually publishing houses.  I swivel between extreme excitement & abject overwhelm.  I’m also working very hard to platform build as I know how important it is in this day and age of publishing. 

December 4-7, 2012…I took a 4 day retreat to attempt to finish the book.  It was perhaps, in my perfect hindsight vision, a teensy bit ambitious.  I coupled the retreat with by .   I was able to figure out the basic structure of the book, finish a few chapters and edit several more.  Also, I whittled down 100,000 words to 70,000 though I need to shave even more off.

August 23, 2012…FANTASTIC NEWS: I’M GOING TO BE PUBLISHED! (Gaaaahhh)!!!!  An essay I wrote was accepted for upcoming anthology from the I Speak For Myself Series (published by White Cloud Press).  I join a select group of “40 Under 40″ American Christian women brave enough to tackle the taboos of the faith.  The women behind this overall project are CNN Producer Maria Ebrahimji (click here for her interview with Publishers Weekly) and writing/marketing consultant Zahra Suratwala.  The project is edited by Enuma Okoro, (I reviewed her recent book, Reluctant Pilgrim, here.)  Enuma blogs here, & Erin Lane who blogs at

July 19, 2012…Was finally able to finish interviewing my Mom for relevant family information.  It was quite the modern miracle to move her through detail on top of detail covering the 1940′s – 1980′s.  Now, I just need to figure out how her stories fit into mine.  Dreaming of an edit deadline of December 31, 2012.

March 1, 2012…Decided to enroll in Gotham’s Online Writer’s Workshop for Memoir.  Sensing I’m needing all the help I can get!  Enjoyed the class, got some great suggestions and made a great new bloggy friend! =)

December 31, 2011…Finished my 1st rough draft of a whopping 100,000 words!

November 22, 2011… I am planning to meet my 2011 goal to have a final first draft of manuscript done by December 31, 2011.

October 21, 2011… I attended the Blogher \’11 Writer\’s Conference hosted by The Penguin Group!

July 25, 2011… In May & June I added about 20,000 words!  To date I’ve written 77, 639 words.  Most memoirs are between 50,000 – 70,000, so I’m golden, baby! While I’m excited about essentially having a ROUGH rough draft, there’s a lot of CUTTING, SCRAPPING & EDITING to do.  Too much will be on the cutting room floor. =(

Started reading/marinating on many books about my next steps…

  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published - By: Jennifer Basye Sander & Sheree Byofsky
  • by Noah Lukeman (–which is FREE on your Kindle or ipad or iphone)!
  • by
  • How to Land & Keep a Literary Agent – By: Noah Lukeman (Ok, so I really like Noah.  He tells it like it is).
  • On Writing Well - By: William Zinsser
  • Inventing the Truth: The art and craft of the memoir - Compiled by: William Zinsser
  • Angela’s Ashes - Frank McCourt’s deeply moving, touching, WONDERFUL, AMAZING memoir.  Holy crap.  It’s so good y’all.
  • Fearless Confession: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir - By: Sue William Silverman
  • Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir – By: Lisa Dale Norton

I’ve been either reading about writing or actually writing, and either way having a blast.  It’s been fun, so it’s not been hard to do.  I gave up TV & movies, and there you have it.  That’s not much sacrifice at all. I try to write or at least 500 words a day.

The biggest news here is that I’m going to shoot for the moon in terms of a big publishing house.  I’m not going to self-publish.  I guess I can state more reasons about that later.

Our little project is coming along friends! =)

April 7, 2011… I have been plugging away at it.  The last few months have been particularly fruitful ~ I CAN FINALLY SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! My final draft copy is due -to me- by December 31, 2011!  I’m hoping 2012 is all about shopping publishers, getting the word out & promotion! Also, I whipped up a new book cover to help inspire me to see a completed product:

June 6, 2010… I am trying not to wallow in guilt and shame that I haven’t updated this page for a whopping 17 months!  Yikes!  The truth is this: I conceived a child on Jan.17, 2009 and it all feels like a big blur of busyness since then!  Also, major discouragement.  I recently read a great book, Live Through This which inspired me.  I wrote 5-6 chapters in instant download mode.  Much to do, but feeling inspired to keep plugging away at it.  Trying to be content with the fact that a good book -one worth your time- will take hard work and patience.

January 11, 2009… I received a glowing response from the school!  She said, “you are a very talented writer,”… “either you have training in writing that you haven’t told me about, or you are a natural born writer.” (!!!)  she said I could “definitely make it as selling author.”  After all her great feedback and a healthy amount of constructive criticism she said, “Do I tell this to everyone?  Not at all.”  Inspiration hit…. I created this page to invite my friends and family to follow me on this journey.  Let’s pray its a good one.

January 4, 2009… I decided I needed writing lessons.  I really want to take this seriously and I want to put out something quality, not something sub-par that I self-publish.  I’d been looking for some on-line courses and found two schools as an option.  I sent in a submission application…

December 25, 2008… After my son, Ransom went to bed I decided to spend 3 solid hours doing research on publishers and the whole publishing world.  I got excited about writing my proposal.  It seemed that most agents & publishers want to see only one chapter and one brief paragraph of what the book is about.  Easy enough, right?  I sat down to write my book summary & the night ended in tears.  I could not figure out how to describe the book in an engaging way.  Writing streak, done… to say the least.

October 2008… I met a friend of the best-selling Christian Author, Anne Lammott who told me she’d pass on my my manuscript to Anne for a possible jacket cover recommendation!  It seemed like so many things were coming together and I was so excited that I sat down and wrote a whopping 14 chapters.  Progress is coming along…

At many points in human history… I don’t remember all the dates but there are so many times that I’ve been so down about this whole process.  Especially in the last year I have felt extremely overwhelmed to the point of giving up.  Sometimes when I look back at what I’ve written I wonder who I am trying to fool with this crap. It has been hard and I hope I’ve not communicated that it’s been peaches and cream along the way.  I’m fighting for this dream, believe me!

September 2008… I read three influential books.  ”Blue Like Jazz” By: Donald Miller, “Traveling Mercies” By: Anne Lammott & “Eat, Love, Pray” By: Elizabeth Gilbert.  I hope this does not sound prideful, but I read these books and thought, “I can do that.  I can do that!  I could write like this!”  It was like an inspiration jolt.

August 1, 2008… By the time I started a 12-mo. study sabbatical from InterVarsity I had made the decision that my 1st book would be a memoir and that race and issues of identity and ethnicity would be the window and primary focus of the book.  In one month before school started I completed about 8 short chapters.  I back up my laptop every single day now!

I took a personality test through the book, “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham, which revealed -and this should be shocking to no one- that I am a born communicator.  One of my chief values in life is that I communicate.  Whether that be through public speaking, writing, blogging, clothing, decorating, or my hair.  Why do you think I got a star tattoo on my neck?  Because I’m  a star!  :)  My husband always says, “uh-huh, you were born for the stage baby!” :)  This small factoid told me: WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

July 2008… I made a long coming decision to change my name to Grace, from “Gracee.”  Grace is the name my Daddy gave me & the inspiration for the title of my book: “The Name my Father Gave Me: The Story of One Woman’s Journey Toward Grace. By: Grace S. Biskie.  Pretty sweet, eh?

Mid 2008… I finally admitted myself that I was just not passionate about the woman’s book.  I never did finish more than one chapter on it.  Every writer’s advice on writing is to start with what you are most passionate about.  At the time, all I wanted to write about was race and race issues.  It was absolutely all I could think about every time I sat down to write.  So…

I gave myself permission one day to dream.  If I could write a book about anything in the whole world what would it be?  As it turned out… my biggest dream is to communicate about my own life.  To explain the story of my crazy childhood, my tragic formative years, my transformation in Christ and my journey towards healing and hope.  A memoir!  Back at square one, eh?

I also wrote down ideas for 7 other books I would eventually like to write, including the woman’s book.  I still think it will be great, but it just needs more time to peculate in my heart and soul.

January 7, 2008… I went to a “blog better” class that IV was offering.  One of the editors at InterVarsity, Al Hsu told me I was an excellent writer and maybe only one in a few hundred people who could keep a consistent readership with a blog that has no intended audience, no particular direction, frequently rattles on about controversial subjects whose committed readership consists of Christians & Atheists alike.  ”That’s a gift,” he said.  He encouraged me to write my first book using InterVarsity Press as my publisher.  He said he would be my “advocate,” and help me every step of the way.  I was again flattered and ready to get back home to start writing.

Late 2007… By the time 2007 closed up shop, I had one measly little chapter done on the woman’s book.  It felt very overwhelming and I just couldn’t get motivated.  However, the more I started telling people that I was writing a book the more it felt natural to say.  Also, more and more people responded with, “wow, that’s awesome– about what?” than “oh, um, that’s cool, yeah… that’s really cool.”  I could tell there was (and still is) a great number of people who believed in me.

April 12, 2007… I picked up a book on CD from the library to listen to on a long drive;  Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by: Alexandra Fuller.  I was drawn in!  I remember thinking if I could communicate my life in the way she did that I would love to do it.

When I got to the retreat center for an 8-hr. silent retreat I was all juiced up with ideas about this new idea for the woman’s book.  I wrote a small prayer to God at the top of my journal page for that day…

Lord, make me a writer.

Anoint me to write my story.

Anoint me to write the woman’s book in ways that are engaging and life-changing.


And then I sat down and wrote 15 pages into my journal with 4 ideas of how I could sort the chapters and content.  When I got home that day I let my husband, Dave read them and he loved them.  I realized something that day.  I realized that I what I wrote was good.  It was actually good.

I also realized that I everything I wrote and lost in the 2005 break-in was CRAP.  Absolute, bonafied crap.  I’m so thankful to God that I lost it!

Late 2006… At the same time that my readership was growing over on myspace, I opened up an account on facebook and had my blog automatically feed through via RSS.  (At least, that’s what I think happened:)  All of a sudden people were coming out of the wood works to tell me that not only do they read my blog, but love my blog.  Everyone I met seemed to be encouraging me to keep writing.  I was (and still am) very flattered, but still didn’t (and still don’t) feel like a “writer.”

All the while, I was being heavily invested in within the InterVarsity community.  I had mentors, peer visits, leadership training up the wazoo and an overall message of empowerment coming my way daily.  Slowly, my confidence was growing and putting something “out there” was becoming more and more of a possibility.

July 14, 2006… I had the most incredible opportunity to hang out in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia with my 8th month old son, while my husband when to school there.  One Sunday we visited a local church where his Professor was giving the message.  In the service I felt like God gave me an idea for a book to write.  As soon as we got home I wrote pages and pages and pages of ideas for a book to women about women.  All of a sudden it wasn’t just a ‘me’ thing anymore… now this was a ‘God’ thing.

April 25, 2006… I opened up a myspace account & wrote my 1st blog ever!  From that point on, I became extremely and obnoxiously addicted to blogging.  Once I knew I had grown to a small but dependable readership of about 40-ish, I wanted to give them something to read every day –or better yet, twice a day!  A love for blogging takes over my life…

December 25, 2005… Our house is broken into.  My laptop is stolen.  I had never backed up, not even once.  I lost all of my work for the book.  I was sad.  Merry Christmas.

Mid 2005… With half of the book written, I am very pregnant with Ransom and decide that maybe it is not the best time to work on it.  All I wanted to do was nest, think and plan for my precious bundle of joy.

Mid 2004… One of my mentors in InterVarsity, Rev. Phil Bowling-Dyer encouraged me to finish my draft and perhaps one day when I felt absolutely ready, submit it for publication.  I remember laughing out loud.  Was he on crack?  But, I must admit once the idea was out there, I couldn’t shake it.  I worked very hard and had at least half the project done by the same time of the next year.

Fall 2003... At the encouragement of my counselor I began writing details of my childhood in my journals to help me remember and relive the good, bad and the ugly.  The more I wrote it out, the more I enjoyed the process.  I decided I would write my life story but only for me or my husband to ever read.  It would be for healing sake.  And so the I got started on the process…

Fast Forward to 2002… Once I began working for InterVarsity I got quite a few invitations to speak on issues of sexuality, sexual abuse and healing or dating and relationships.  When I got feedback almost everyone told me that I needed to write my story.  It was laughable.  I usually responded with, “uh-huh, great. thanks for the suggestion!” (warm fake smile).

Besides the journal, I had never wrote anything for anyone other than notes to my friends in high school.  Back in the pre-historic days of 1990-1994 we didn’t have facebook, cell phones, texting or email & wrote personal hand-written letters to one another almost every day!

9th grade-ish… I noticed my friend, Jodi kept a journal.  Being that I thought Jodi was super cool I decided to try to be like her and started my own.  Early on, I wrote mostly about feeling heartbroken over some stupid boy or I wrote long obnoxious prayers to God to smite some boy who did me wrong.

As it progressed, journaling introduced me to introspection, thinking deeply, praying honestly, being myself and realizing what was truly valuable to me.  I now have over 40 filled-to-the-brim journals.  Journaling also taught me that I love to write and has been one the best gifts of my entire life.  (Thank you, Jodi).

As a kid... I never wrote.  Never thought about writing or had any ambitions what so ever.  This was 1/2 due to not being invested in by parents or teachers, but 1/2 because I’ve always been a fly by the seat of my pants type of gal.  I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I didn’t dream about anything other than getting married or having lots of babies.

~~~ This is the story of how my life as a writer began ~~~