Monday, February 19, 2018


How to Write a Memoir (If Every Part of Your Life Has Been Memorable) l Rhonda Shear @rhondashear

How to Write a Memoir (If Every Part of Your Life Has Been Memorable)

I had never written a book, much less a memoir, when I sat down at home in St. Petersburg, Florida, to start pulling the majestic mess that’s been my life into some sort of coherent storyline. And as I started listing all the stuff I’ve done, it quickly became clear that I was in trouble. I mean, I could have made the case for a table of contents that looked like this: beauty queen, dancer, Playboy model, candidate for office, actress, human-sized doll, late-night celebrity, comedian, woman in love, entrepreneur, designer, philanthropist, shopping channel star and mother of dogs (just think of me as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, but with Chihuahuas and a Yorkie instead of dragons).
Whew. How do you get a handle on something that you have no perspective on—namely, your life? How do you step back and see which episodes, people and stories are worth including and which ones aren’t? I can only tell you how I did it, but I hope what I learned will help you in your writing.
First of all, get professional help. No, not that kind. Talk to an editor or memoirist, someone with experience who can help you sort through all the material and figure out the thread of your story. Is there a common theme throughout your life? A high point that everything leads to? A tragedy or lesson that shaped you? When you’re so close to your story, you can miss what’s obvious to someone else. I talked to a professional writer who helped me figure out the theme of my story: that I had always been a feminist without even knowing it.
Then get organized. Break down your book into stages of your life, even create a table of contents. I couldn’t have written Up All Night if I hadn’t broken it down into more bite-sized sections based on my days in New Orleans, Hollywood and Florida. Doing that, then breaking things down further into chapters, helped me get my head around the stories, photos, people, dates and events that I needed to write about.
Another thing to do: talk to friends and family who’ve known you well. You might think you have a great memory, but we all forget things. Our memories can even mislead us. People who were there for the story of your life can correct you when you get something wrong and remind you of people and events that you may not recall. In writing my book, I talked to my husband, Van, my siblings, my cousins, colleagues from Hollywood and comedy…everyone who I thought could help me tell a better story. They were a goldmine of memories, funny tales, and valuable critiques and ideas. I wouldn’t have been able to write it without them.
Last but not least, find a small (and I mean, small) circle of people you can trust to read your memoir as you’re writing it and give you useful feedback. This is tricky. People who will tell you every word is gold are useless, for obvious reason. Hyper-critical people who will poke holes in everything you write are also useless. You need readers who will be honest and fair, giving you credit when something works well but offering constructive criticism when something flops. My advice? Find three or four people at most who fit this description and send them chapters as you finish them. Then take their comments seriously. I did, even though it meant more work for me. The result was a much stronger book.
That’s it. Now, go write that memoir!



About the Author

Actress. Comedian. Award-winning entrepreneur. Builder of a $100 million apparel brand. Television star. Former Miss Louisiana. Candidate for elected office. Philanthropist. And now, author. There aren’t many hats that Rhonda Shear hasn’t tried on, and she’s worn them all with style, moxie, southern charm, and a persistent will to be the best.

A New Orleans native, Rhonda started her journey to the spotlight by dominating local, state, and national beauty pageants from the time she was sixteen—including three turns as Miss Louisiana. In 1976, in the wake of a Playboy modeling scandal that cost her a coveted crown, she became the youngest person ever to run for office in Louisiana, losing her fight for a New Orleans post by only 135 votes.

After that, Hollywood called, and she quickly moved from Bob Hope specials to guest appearances on hundreds of television shows, from Happy Days and Married With Children to appearing on classic Chuck Barris camp-fests like The Gong Show and the $1.98 Beauty Show. Rhonda’s big break came in 1991 when she became the sultry-smart hostess of late-night movie show USA: Up All Night, a gig that lasted until 1999 and made her nationally famous.

After Up All Night ended, Rhonda pursued her love of comedy and quickly became a headliner in Las Vegas and at top comedy clubs like The Laugh Factory and the Improv. At the same time, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart, Van Fagan, who she hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. After a whirlwind, storybook courtship, they married in 2001.

Rhonda’s latest chapter began when she appeared on the Home Shopping Network to sell women’s intimates. Her appearance was a sensation, and she and Van quickly started a company, Shear Enterprises, LLC, to design, manufacture and sell Rhonda’s own line of women’s intimate wear. Today, that company has grown to more than $100 million in annual sales, and Rhonda has won numerous entrepreneurship awards—though she still refers to herself as a “bimbopreneur.”

Today, Rhonda and Van live in a magnificent house in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she engages in many philanthropic projects, supports numerous charities for women, and works on new books.



About the Book:

Author: Rhonda Shear
Publisher: Mascot Books
Pages: 275
Genre: Memoir/Women’s Self-Help

Up All Night combines memoir and self-help to follow Rhonda Shear’s incredible journey from modest New Orleans girl to bold, brassy, beautiful entrepreneur and owner of a $100 million Florida lingerie company.

Along the way, Rhonda has been a beauty queen, a groundbreaking candidate for office, a Playboy model, a working actress, a late-night TV star and sex symbol, a headlining standup comedian, an award-winning “bimbopreneur” and a philanthropist who uses her success to help women of all ages be their best and appreciate their true beauty.

Up All Night is also a love story. Rhonda reconnected with her first love, Van Fagan, after 25 years apart, and after a whirlwind romance in The Big Easy, they married in 2001. Now they share a fantasy life of luxury—but it hasn't come easily. In this book, Rhonda shares the lessons she’s learned along the way: never let anyone else define you or tell you what you can’t do, make your own luck, and do what you love.


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