In the Mirror: A memoir of shattered secrets — author Ann Best’s story of faith, resilience, and inner strength

I don’t remember how Ann Best’s name first came across my computer screen. Perhaps it was while I was searching for memoir writers on Twitter. Or maybe she found me first and commented on my blog. In this digital world, names representing individuals pass across my screen. Some float across, never to return and others stick.

Ann Best’s writing sticks.

I visited Ann’s blog and read through her page Brain Injury: A Journey. With my experience having a sister with severe developmental disability, I suppose you could say I immediately connected with Ann’s writing and my heart went out to her.

I bought her memoir In the Mirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets, which is largely about her relationship with her first husband Larry who, after four children with her and eleven years of marriage, announced that he had been having relationships with other men. Ann responds to her husband’s infidelity the way she responds to the rest of the challenges she faces in her life, with faith, resilience, and inner strength. Ann and her husband try to hold the marriage together for eight years, but ultimately are not successful. In the memoir Ann also writes about the fateful accident that left one of her daughters with a severe pelvic injury and the other with a devastating brain injury.

In the Mirror is an honest and frank story about the additional challenges Ann faced in life: romantic temptation, financial hardships, alcoholism of a second husband, and difficulties with raising four children. In fact, Ann faces so many challenges in her life, through no fault of her own, that if  In the Mirror were fictional, it might not be believable. Oftentimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Through it all Ann maintains a strong focus on her faith. Good friends, her religious community, and at times, minor miracles see her through.

Ann writes courageously with a clean, clear style that keeps the reader engaged with it’s simple honesty and moving dialog. In addition to her captivating life story, Ann surprised and educated me about the strength of the Mormon community and the tenets of the faith which include the powerful role of the Bishops in individuals’ lives.

In the Mirror deserves a place on the shelves of women’s literature. It is the story of a woman in the 1960s and 1970s, long before the world embraced the empowerment of women in new roles, who got knocked down, picked herself back up, followed her dream, and scraped her way through to peace and contentment.

I read it in two days.

I am grateful that Ann Best’s name floated across my computer screen. I feel now like I not only know her, but am so very proud of her.

Ann Carbine Best was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She now lives in the Shenandoah Valley, her favorite place, where she is full-time caregiver of her disabled daughter. Ann lives not far from her and Larry’s other three children and seven grandchildren. Over the years, she has published and won awards for stories, essays, and poetry, and is currently plotting two other memoirs. “I’ve lived long enough,” she says, “to write memoir.” (

Successful Self-Publishing: Assignment #5

Assignment #5 was called A Self-Publisher is a Small Businessperson. This is where the rubber meets the road for the writer. Most things I’ve read about self-publishing say the challenge for the writer is the business part of self-publishing. I can’t say for myself. Right now I’m feeling pretty challenged about a lot of aspects of self-publishing including editing, copyrights and permissions. In these areas, I suspect an  editor at a traditional publishing house would likely have your back.

We read a handout for this session that covered setting up your small business, identifying and complying with legal and regulatory requirements, record keeping and tax reporting, and contingency planning.

As with the other assignments, we had two worksheets to fill out: a business entity worksheet and a small business startup compliance checklist. Here is my response:

Okay, this is a little intimidating. But I suppose that may be the point — a reality check.

The reading materials were quite helpful. I’m not sure how I would have even known that I needed this information and these forms without them.

I believe my best plan is to start a LLC, primarily for liability concerns, but also for the tax benefits. My husband has an S-corp and I will consult with the accountant and lawyer we used to help us set it up.

I’m a little uncertain about some of the licensing steps because I live in West Chester, Ohio, which is a township. I’m not sure what city hall I need to go to. I did find a site online about licensing a business in West Chester, but it listed a variety of businesses, none of which applied.

Would I need a vendor’s license? They also had a miscellaneous permit, so I’m not sure what to do.

I went to the Ohio small business site and found that there are small business development centers, SBDCs, here. I plan to contact one located in the county in which I reside. Hopefully they will have good information for me there.

I downloaded all the recommended publications from the IRS site, but haven’t read them yet. I also visited the SBA (small business association) site and bookmarked it for later reference.

In summary, I understand there are licenses I need to acquire and tax responsibilities I need to understand. I have some resources to get started with.

Regarding a contingency plan, I have an external hard drive that automatically backs up my computer on a regular basis. That will not help if I have a fire or a natural disaster, like a tornado for instance. I might look into an online backup service, or consider backing up important files to my daughter’s computer and external hard drive. I also keep hard copies of everything.

I have an office set up with a good workspace and filing system.

I’m not sure about virus or malware protection because I use a Mac. This is something I will need to investigate.

So, this was an intimidating session, but helpful.

 Our instructor offered to look over an excerpt of our manuscript. And by good fortune, I chose an excerpt that contained lyrics to a song and was promptly informed by the instructor that I could not included the copyrighted lyrics without permission. I should have known. That sent me into a panic of what other things might be in my memoir for which I need permission. I have now changed the names of every doctor, nurse and priest I write about. The only people who are named are family members. I will need written permission to publish what I’ve written about them. I will also need written permission for everyone who is included in a photograph.

I think I’d better learn how to write fiction.

Here is a short excerpt from my memoir (minus the lyrics). I have set the chapters up so that each one begins with a journal-type entry of the days when Annie was sick, diagnosed, and under the care of hospice, until her death. The second part of each chapter contains a vignette, or explanation of some aspect of Annie’s life or my relationship with her. Annie was born with severe brain damage. She couldn’t walk or talk and required the care of an infant, but she knew who we were, and she enjoyed our company. This excerpt is a vignette from the end of the 23rd out of 26 chapters.

late 1960s

I was at home babysitting Annie, and we were listening to the radio when her favorite song, Windy by the Association, came on.

“Annie! It’s our favorite song,” I yelled as I jumped up, grabbed an imaginary microphone, and started singing out loud along with the radio, in front of her chair. I replaced the name “Windy” with “Annie.”

“Everyone knows it’s Annie. . .

I started marching to the beat of the words, “ Da da, bum bum bum bum.”

Annie got excited and started waving her right arm up and down. She had a big grin on her face. I had a captivated audience, and now I was in full swing. I ran over and jumped onto the sofa, still holding my imaginary microphone in my right hand and using big dramatic arm motions with my left. I was singing out loud. Emphasis on the loud.

I jumped back off the sofa, got behind Annie’s chair, and twirled her in a circle as I sang. Annie was laughing all the while. By the time the song was over I was short of breath, and I had worked Annie into a state of utter excitement. She was hollering and laughing and swinging her arm up and down with fervor.

“We love that song, don’t we Annie?” I said. “ Whew!” I collapsed to the floor, arms and legs flaying out from my sides in an exhausted position, going for one more chuckle from Annie.

She complied.
Read Assignment #6

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