Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Norton’

Margaret Norton has her flaws, and she knows it. But instead of letting them consume her, she confronted them in a years-long battle to find peace within herself. Margaret’s struggle and her salvation are chronicled in her memoir “When Ties Break: Thriving After Loss”.

The Specifics

Title: When Ties Break: A Memoir About Thriving After Loss

Author: Margaret Norton

Paperbook: 260 pages, available now in e-book

Publisher: Tate Publishing (August 3, 2010)



Following her father’s death, Margaret Norton suddenly finds herself cast out of her family, chastised by an older brother for her selfish ways and questionable decisions. Set adrift with only her faith to cling to, she weathers multiple divorces, drug abuse, financial ruin, the deaths of family and close friends, a nomadic lifestyle, and conflicting personal relationships. Instead of succumbing to these trials and tragedies, Margaret eventually learns to rise above them by following the simplest of principles: trust in God then trust yourself.

Here‘s what I think…

Despite being raised in a strong Catholic family and attending eight years of parochial school, I am not a religious person. While I enjoy reading memoirs, a book with such an obvious spiritual bent would not have been the first thing I grabbed off the shelf. But Margaret’s story is well worth reading, regardless of your degree of faith, because it holds some valuable lessons for anyone who struggles. The challenges Margaret faced confront ordinary people everywhere, every day, and readers will identify with her frustration and pain, and rejoice in her triumph over them. Margaret makes many admissions in her memoir but few apologies and that’s the lesson people should relate to most about her story – that you don’t need to apologize to others for what they think of you but you do need to accept who you are and be comfortable with yourself.

Chatting with Margaret

Margaret was gracious enough to take some time to visit with me about her life and her book. Here’s the lowdown:

You began writing your story at the suggestion of your therapist. If they hadn’t suggested it, would you have arrived at that decision on your own to write your memoir?  That’s a hard one. Probably not. When I was younger I used to journal and write but somewhere along the way, I stopped doing that. I’ve had a lot of therapy through the years and a lot of times they’d suggest things like “write a letter to someone but don’t mail it”. Writing a book about your life is more than mailing it; it’s like putting it on page one of the newspaper. Something I probably would have never done, since I tend to be a little shy, without someone encouraging me.

Your story is so emotional that it would have been easy to become self-pitying in your writing yet you didn’t. How did you avoid that? I’ve had my struggles with self pity and sometimes I still feel sorry for myself. But belief in God and positive thinking got me where I am today. No matter how bad my life was I always seemed to meet people who had it worse. As I’d listen to their stories, I’d think I’m sure glad I don’t have their problems. I came to really believe that everything happened in my life as it should – that God had a plan for me – and I learned to be thankful and content even when life wasn’t going my way. It wasn’t easy. It took many years, lots of stops and starts, and much support from my friends. Self-pity is surrounded by regret and anger – two emotions that I tried to rid my life of.

“When Ties Break” has such a strong message about trusting in your faith to carry you through life’s trials. Why should readers who don’t have that close of a relationship with God read your book? That’s an interesting question that I’ve given much thought to. I think my book and my life was not only a struggle to understand God but a journey to find myself. I suspect everyone goes through similar experiences. It’s full of real, very challenging situations – things that everyone experiences – whether they believe in God or not. I think I would have survived without God, though that might sound un-Christian. There are principles, like forgiveness, that I talk about in my book that everyone could benefit from, regardless of their religious beliefs.

What advice would you offer writers who may want to share their own difficult stories but are afraid to do so? One blog that I recently wrote was titled “Writing Memoir is not for Sissies”. Writing about painful life experiences can be very healing but it’s not easy. There are all kinds of things to take into consideration. Why are you doing it? To help others or get back at someone? Should you change the names? Should you wait until certain people die? How will you handle it when people get angry with you and don’t support your writing? So many people still believe, even with reality TV that we have today, that you should not talk about your problems openly. I believe that only by talking about them openly can you begin to solve them. There are a lot of good books on writing your story. I strongly recommend following the advice of experts.

Any new projects we should look forward to from the pen of Margaret Norton? My book was the first thing that I wrote – not the way that most people start out writing. Now I’m going back to the beginning and doing short stories and articles. I’m hoping to retire in a few years and would like to do more writing then. Maybe a book of female survival stories, ones that readers have shared with me. Or maybe I’ll turn my story into fiction. That way I could control the ending. I do feel that I have much to share; I’m just not sure how writing fits in with my life at the moment. For the past seven months, I’ve been writing on my blog –  HealthyNFit Granny – and for now this seems to be a good fit for me.

Big thanks to Margaret for her comments and allowing me to read and review her book, and thanks as well to Margo Dill for bringing Margaret’s blog tour to “Hot Off The Wire”. And now, here’s the part where…

You could be a winner!

Margaret is celebrating her 60th birthday by giving away three grand prizes: a 30-minute FREE life coaching session (by phone, for U.S. residents only), her memoir in paperback (for U.S. residents only), and her memoir in e-book format (for anyone!). To enter Margaret’s Celebrate 60 blog tour contest, just leave a comment on this post.

Each blogger participating in the tour will randomly select one winner from all the comments and enter that name into the grand prize drawing. Margaret will contact the three grand prize winners for their choice of prize the week of February 27, 2012 and announce the winners on her blog on March 2, 2012.

And if you’re on Twitter, you have even MORE chances to enter. Please tweet about the contest or why you love being the age you are; be sure to use the hash tag #Celebrate60. Anyone tweeting with that hash tag will get an extra entry into the contest. For more information, contact Margaret’s publicist, Margo, at

Here’s the part where you comment…thanks for stopping by the Wire!

The first dead body I saw not in a hospital or a casket was lying in an alley. There were two of them. They were a couple, and that’s why they were dead because the woman’s ex-husband wasn’t happy about it.

My first homicide as a reporter was the first murder in 10 years in the town where I live. It happened on a weeknight, two blocks from City Hall where I was covering a meeting. The radio station sent someone to get me. These were the days before cell phones and text messages when news tips came from police scanners and the lips of people you trusted. I grabbed my notebook and tape recorder and ran the few blocks to the crime scene, heart pounding not from the exertion but from the adrenalin of a big story and the fear of screwing it up in the telling.

I’d covered crime before in a city bigger than this one. One of my first news stories there was about a carload of people who’d been shot in the parking lot of a strip club. No one died in that incident and I didn’t see the carnage firsthand although the news director I worked for did. I just covered the police briefings and trial. But the hometown murder in the alley that night was mine to report.

The crime scene was easy enough to find. I just followed the flashing lights and the uniforms. Onlookers were kept at bay which was no easy task since a lot of them were drunk. The murder had taken place behind a popular bar and everyone there had witnessed the confrontation that led to the final act. I skirted the crowd and went down the alley. I didn’t ask anybody where I could go; I was with the press so I just went. I came around a police cruiser and saw the dead man’s legs first. I kept moving until I could see the rest of him. And her. They’d been shot.

Dead people look normal in caskets. Not “alive” (no mortician is that good) but they don’t look out of place. Bodies in alleys do. It doesn’t matter if they’re laid out sleeping or flung across the asphalt bleeding, they don’t belong there. I saw the crime scene for about 30 seconds before an officer barked, “Get back! What are you doing?”

“Press,” my 22-year-old voice squeaked. I was hustled back behind the line.

A press briefing was hastily thrown together back at City Hall. It was crowded and crazy. Muffled sobbing. Squawk of police radios. Chatter of the press corps. The police chief’s statement was short and to the point: two victims shot and killed, one suspect in custody, no names released until the families could be notified. Questions were shouted but few were answered. It was too early to know much of anything.

I rushed back to the station, typed up a quick story with a sound bite from the chief, and broke in to regular programming with a “This just in…” news announcement. The story broke fast – confessions, charges, funerals, trial, sentencing. I followed it the whole way and for the first time since becoming a radio news director, I felt like a real reporter with an important story to tell. A few months later, when the next murder came along (this one a stabbing at a local motel), I was ready.

I eventually left the radio station for a state bureau chief job with United Press International and I would have happily worked there until the reporter’s notebook was plucked from my cold dead fingers but a corporate bankruptcy followed by massive lay-offs put an end to that. Other reporting opportunities in other places slipped from my grasp because my home situation didn’t allow for a move. One of the toughest professional decisions I ever made was to stay where I am for the good of my family. Some days I still regret it.

The people we want to be don’t always end up being the people we become. The roads we travel, either professionally or personally, have exit ramps and intersections and sometimes even a good GPS can’t save you from getting lost. My road led me to start writing fiction and not surprisingly, a good chunk of it is more dark alley than sunny meadow. The reporter’s instincts may be rusty but they’re still getting used and I’m grateful for that.

What unexpected place did YOUR road take YOU and how has it shaped the person you are now?

And if you’re interested in hearing the story of one woman’s journey from the dark into the light, HOT OFF THE WIRE is pleased to be hosting author Margaret Norton Mon., Feb. 20, 2012 for her blog tour to promote the re-release of her book “When Ties Break” as an e-book. Swing by for my review and some Q&A with Margaret herself. I might even break out the dessert plates and serve some refreshments. Feel free to bring a friend.