As a recently retired cosmetologist with over forty years in the business, Terry Sue Harms approaches writing as if it were hairstyling—every sentence gets combed through repeatedly, unsnarling tangles, smoothing, and straightening small sections until every element works together and is as appealing as she can make it. Turns out, her salon work has served her writing life well. Both jobs require astute powers of observation, patience, sensitive communication skills, keen attention to detail, a fearless willingness to follow creative inspiration, and a good eye for style, structure, and balance; plus, when it comes to studying the human condition, few places are better than the beauty shop.
And after five years of grooming The Strongbox: Searching for My Absent Father, it was ready to turn from the mirror and step onto the public stage. Published in October of 2020 by She Writes Press, this memoir reads like a detective story. It’s about the author’s decades-long search to find the real identity of her biological father and what she did with the discoveries she made along the way. His absolute rejection, compounded by the premature death of her mother when she was sixteen as well as a number of other factors, made abandonment a guiding force in Ms Harms’ life.
Nevertheless, pride and perseverance are two themes that run throughout her story, and it’s their role she’d like to discuss with the NAMW Virtual Book Club. Confronting the challenges of her early years has fueled her writing and affirmed her inner spirit that yearns to be seen and valued.
Terry looks forward to sharing about how to:
- Stay proud and persevere
- Use writing as an esteem-able act
- Focus on the me in memoir
- Respect the journey
- Recognize her place in the vast world of writers
- Make peace with platform
After a childhood of neglect and undiagnosed reading disabilities, Terry Sue Harms taught herself to read and write as a young adult. In 1992, at age 32, she graduated from Mills college with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, one of her proudest and most rewarding accomplishments. She has self-published two books: Pearls My Mother Wore—a novel, and Reflections Upon the Occasion of My 85th Year—a memoir co-authored with her father-in-law. The Strongbox: Searching For My Absent Father is her third book, a memoir published by She Writes Press (October 2020). Recently retired from hairdressing, Terry Sue lives in scenic Sonoma, California where she now works at a residential high school for boys as a literacy coach.
For more information, including her Shut Out Stories-Blog, please check out: terrysueharms.com
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