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Telling Your Story with Mary Helen Hensley

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Non-Fiction Guides | Writing Memoir

Mary Helen Hensley

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“No matter where you go, always carry a pen and paper. No matter how tired you are at night, take five minutes to chronicle the events of the day. One day, you’ll thank me,” my mother Helen Hensley always said to me.

Three books later, with a fourth underway, I owe everything to my mother. I can’t actually recall a time when I didn’t keep a journal of my life’s events, the musings of authors known and unknown, or delicious little quotes that seem to solve the problems of the world with a few well-chosen words. I am ‘notebook girl’. I have one in my handbag, one in the side pocket of the driver’s side door of my car, one on the bathroom window sill, two on the bed-side table, not to mention the ‘notes’ feature on my iPhone. By nature or nurture, my mother instilled in me the importance of capturing a thought in the moment, rather than trying to recall it from the recesses of my cluttered mind, after the fact. I can proudly say that in a world of instant messaging, where the art of the hand written word has been whittled down to letters from Grandma or the signing of one’s name on a birthday card, I am raising two ‘notebook girls’ of my own. I can think of no greater passion to pass on, than a love of the written word.

When I decided to pen the story of my colourful life, I did so with the intention of creating a guidebook for my two little girls, both possessing the same ‘unusual’ gene as their mother. I wanted my girls to have the opportunity to view life from my perspective, to give them the inside scoop on what it was like for me as a child who could see spirits and talk to the dead. Both of my girls have the same gift, but are living with it under very different circumstances than I did. Their mom is a practising metaphysical healer and author. I was the daughter of a Christian minister, living in the Bible Belt of the southern states of America in the early 1970’s. Talk about perspective.

Between my journals and my mother’s quirky habit of writing down almost every conversation we have ever had by phone, coming up with material for my books was easy. However, a straight down the line chronological sequence of events, no matter how compelling, can be a bit of a yawn. A twist of good fortune and a game of poker changed it all for me.

When my first book, “Promised”, was nearly complete, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in the magical setting of Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site nestled on the banks of the river Shannon, in the heart of Ireland. An international best-selling author and absolute legend in the esoteric community was the facilitator of this inspiring two day series of talks. There were less than fifty people in attendance at the intimate venue, making access to our speaker a real possibility. As a budding author, this was a big moment for me. I had great confidence in my story and its potential to contribute something positive to those who would read it. From a technical standpoint, something about the format bugged me. As luck would have it, the host of the weekend workshop asked if I would give our guest speaker a lift to the pub in the next village. We were going for a bit of authentic Irish atmosphere, topped off with the most perfect pints of Guinness and a friendly game of penniless poker. The fifteen minute journey to the village of Shannonbridge would change the way I would write, forever.

“I don’t mean to impose”, I said to our guest, both of us knowing full well that I had every intention of imposing.

“I’m all yours until we get to the pub. Fire away.”

I gave a very quick rundown of the story line of my book, building up through my youth to the pinnacle moment, where at the age of twenty-one, I was killed in a car accident, only to return with full memories intact of what took place on ‘the other side’.

“Pull over for a second.”

He spoke with the razor-sharp clarity of a seasoned pro.

“Grab your audience by the throat so tightly in your opening chapter, that the idea of putting your book down until it has been read cover to cover is unthinkable. “

With that, Neale Donald Walsch moved the gripping account of my accident to the first chapter, went retro with my childhood in chapter two, and the rest is history.

My greatest challenge as an author is that I am not full- time. I’m a single mom, a chiropractor, a metaphysical healer and an author. But hey, if I wasn’t out there experiencing all of those other things, I wouldn’t have juicy material to write about! I am often asked how in the world I find time to write books with the busy schedule I keep. The answer is simple. If you love anything passionately enough, you will find the time to do it. After forty-something years of wrestling with insomnia, it has become my greatest ally. When my children go to bed at night, I pack their lunches, put on a load of laundry, and then sit down at the laptop. If you want to write a book, you stop making excuses and write the book.

Last, but not least, the motivation behind why you write is vital. Those who write because they are seeking fortune and fame, rarely, if ever, become the ones who achieve it. I write because I believe with all that I possess, that we stand to evolve into a more cohesive, compassionate and caring species, if we take the time to listen to as many perspectives of the human experience as possible. What greater legacy could we possibly leave behind than the opportunity for those in the future to discern life in the past from the words of the common people?

About the author

(c) Mary Helen Hensley June 2012

The thirds book in Dr. Mary Helen Hensley’s triology The Land Beyond the River is out at the end of June.

Mary is an American chiropractor, healer and motivational speaker living in Athlone. A mother of two girls, she has published three books with Book Hub Publishing including ‘Promised’, ‘Circles of Light’ and ‘The Land Beyond the River’. All three books are available from the Publisher atwww.bookhub4u.ie

Book Hub Publishing is an independent book publishing and editing service located in the west of Ireland and you may find us at www.bookhub4u.ie.  Book Hub Publishing’s Professional Services team is equipped with an array of first class editors, designers, writers and marketers with experience in the publishing industry. Whether you choose a publishing package, marketing package or individual service, you can be assured your manuscript will be handled with care and professionalism.

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