Author Archives: Erica

Featured NAMW Member – Debbie Tripp

Debbie Tripp 1I started seriously writing in a journal while I was in college.  To tell you the truth, it is often the only way I can discover what I really think about a puzzling topic.  I use a pen and paper to discover my truths so often that my friends sometimes tease me about having my brains in my fingers.  I joined NAMW about five years ago and jumped in fingers first, writing stories from my childhood.  Through the years, I have experienced much healing from writing the stories of my past and having them witnessed in our memoir writing group.  I can also testify to the truth of Pennebaker’s research about writing and its impact on pain.  I know first hand that the writing I have done through the years with NAMW classes has reduced the painful flares of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.



Debbie currently lives in Utah.  She has taught writing for healing and self-discovery classes for over twenty years in Michigan and Washington State.  She was awarded the Jade Ring Award for Writing Excellence by the Wisconsin State Regional Writers Association.  When she isn’t writing her memoirs, she is trying new recipes or pursuing her passion of Saori Weaving.

March Roundtable Discussion–Free to All

Writing In the Voice of My Mother

Jo Ivester

Thursday March 3, 2016

4 pm PST   5 pm MST   6 pm CST   7 pm EST

Ivester Facebook PhotoWe are so pleased to welcome Jo Ivester, the author of The Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir of the 1960s Deep South to our Roundtable podcast. Read her summary below about working with her mother to write a story about her mother’s life. Ultimately Jo wrote from the point of view of her mother. We get many questions about this at NAMW, and want to explore the issues that arise.

They include:

Can I write in the POV of someone else and call it a memoir?

What makes the reader engage in a story like that?

Join us for a great discussion about the narrative voice, choices you can make, and how to might write from the point of view of someone else.


From Jo:

Outskirts CoverIn 1967, when I was 10 years old, my father joined the War on Poverty. He moved our family from Boston to a small, all-black town in the Mississippi Delta, where he started a clinic, my mother taught at the local high school, and I was the only white student at my junior high. Thirty-five years later, my mother wrote about those days, along with stories from her whole life.

For five years, we worked together to massage her early writings into a cohesive journal, spanning much of the 20th century. After distributing copies of that journal to family and friends, we circulated it to connections in the publishing industry and were told that the story of our time in Mississippi was the only publishable part. My mother, disappointed, gave up, but that was just the start for me. I took the feedback in stride and went on to write “Outskirts,” relying on both my mother’s journal and my own childhood memories.


What Members Will Gain:

  • An appreciation of the importance of writing daily, even when there is no book in sight
  • An understanding of how the memoir-writing process can draw family members closer together
  • A recognition of the challenges of writing in someone else’s voice, along with the rewards of doing so
  • Some pointers about re-connecting with people from one’s past
  • The courage to be honest and authentic in writing about one’s experiences
  • How to decide about using another person’s point of view



Jo Ivester spent two years of her childhood living in a trailer in Mound Bayou, where she was the only white student at her junior high. She finished high school in Florida before attending Reed, MIT, and Stanford in preparation for a career in  transportation and manufacturing. Following the birth of her fourth child, she began teaching, first as a substitute math teacher and then as an adjunct professor at St. Edward’s University. She and her husband teach each January at MIT and travel extensively, splitting their time between Texas and Colorado. For more information, please visit


Listen to the recording below:

Magic of Memoir Anthology–Call for Submissions


Editors: Linda Joy Myers and Brooke WarnerMagic cover


  1. Go to to enter your information and to pay the fee.
  2. Upload your submission.
  3. Wait for us to get in touch with you (decisions will be made by August 1).


From teaching memoir for so many years, Brooke Warner and I have learned from our students, and well-known memoir writers, how challenging the journey can be—from mining for memories and experiences to the point of completing a well-written memoir. Everyone who sets out to write a memoir encounters its stages—from the excitement of starting to the dread that invariably comes when you’re facing down your demons. Then there are the challenges of craft—how to find the structure and words that convey your message. We want to know from you how you solved these problems.

In this collection, we are asking writers to share their stories of hard-earned wisdom. We want to learn how you dealt with the inner critic, or the practical strategies that provided motivation to write about the dark times your story might have brought up. Share with us the lessons you  learned from the  mistakes you made on this journey, and how you overcame them. Tell us what inspired you, what kept you going, and most of all why you tackled the challenge of writing a memoir. For Magic of Memoir, editors Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and Brooke Warner, Publisher of She Writes Press, are looking for a broad perspective and specific tips on the discipline and inspiration you used to write your  memoir.



The following points are prompts to get you thinking about the range of essays you might write for Magic of Memoir.

We do not intend for you to try to cover all of these points, nor are you limited to what we list here.

  1. What challenges have you dealt with—craft, emotional surprises, wrestling with truth?
  2. What kinds of things did your inner critic say as you wrote your memoir and how did you get past them?
  3. Did you have “outer critics”—voices of family and friends—who challenged the idea of you writing a memoir? What did they say and how did you cope with that?
  4. What were your reasons for writing your memoir?
  5. Support and accountability: what factors or people helped you to keep writing?
  6. How did the issue of truth arise as you wrote? Did you have doubts about the truth of your story, or did other people’s take on the story influence you?
  7. Did you combine/collapse characters and time in your story? If yes, what were the factors that led to your decision to do that and what was the result?
  8. What were your concerns about exposing secrets, or revealing things that might upset your family, and how did you solve the issues that came up for you?
  9. Were you worried about lawsuits—and how did you handle this?
  10. What was it like to try to translate memories and moments into a story structure? What were the challenges and what helped you to sort that out?
  11. How many drafts of your memoir did you write before you completed it, and what was your editing and revision process?
  12. How long did it take you to write your memoir and what were the most interesting and or surprising things you learned on your journey?



• Send your submissions in MS Word, 12 point type, Times New Roman. Double space your entry, and be sure to edit it. We advise that you find outside editors or peer readers to go over your piece for typos, grammar, and meaning. Manuscript presentation is important.
•    Nonfiction memoir submissions, up to 3,000 words maximum.
•    Please include a brief bio with contact information for the “About the Contributors” section.
•    Editors reserve the right to choose pieces based on appropriateness of subject, writing technique, and style. Minor editing for length or clarity should be expected.
• You do not have to be a published memoirist in order to submit. Previously published submissions are allowable as long as you can secure permission to reprint it from the original publisher. This anthology is being published on She Writes Press, and we welcome male contributors!

Submissions deadline is June 1, 2016, and the submissions fee is $20.


The top 18-20 submissions will be published in Magic of Memoir: Inspiration for the Writing Journey (She Writes Press, November 2016), edited by Linda Joy Myers, PhD, and Brooke Warner. The top three entries will receive these prizes.

1st place: $400

2nd place: $200

3rd place: $100

All chosen contributors will receive two complimentary copies of the book upon publication and the opportunity to buy unlimited at 50% off.


We will announce the prize winners and the anthology contributors on August 1, 2016. We intend to get back to all of you directly, but you will find the update on August 1st on our site:


_RRP2639 edt promo

Linda Joy Myers, PhD, is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her memoir Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness was a finalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year Award, a finalist in the IndieExcellence Awards, and received Honorable Mention in the New York Book Awards. She’s the author of three books on memoir writing: The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Journey of Memoir, and Becoming Whole. She writes for the Huffington Post, and co-teaches with Brooke Warner the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months. Together Myers and Warner co-authored Breaking Ground on Your Memoir. A therapist for 36 years, Myers speaks about memoir, healing, and the power of writing the truth.


Warner 2016 colorBrooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of What’s Your Book?, Green-light Your Book, How to Sell Your Memoir, and the co-author with Myers of Breaking Ground on Your Memoir. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing. She is the former Executive Editor of Seal Press and currently sits on the boards of the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Bay Area Book Festival, and the National Association of Memoir Writers. She co-teaches with Linda Joy Myers the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months. Together Warner and Myers co-authored Breaking Ground on Your Memoir. She blogs actively on Huffington Post Books and

Please send any inquiries or points of clarification to Please DO NOT submit your work to this email address.

Featured NAMW Member – Paula Wagner

Paula_WagnerChameleon Season, (my coming of age memoir in progress) focuses on a five-year period in Israel and France where I lived as a young woman in the turbulent sixties. Although I left home at barely eighteen, through many childhood moves, I had learned to adapt, like a chameleon wherever I landed. A year in a London boarding school at age fourteen had opened my eyes to the world of my English mother. Now I dreamed of exploring my father’s Jewish roots – perhaps as a way to his elusive heart – as well as a home and identity of my own. But when I set out on this journey with the all the idealism, naiveté and bravado of youth, I had no idea it would determine the course of my life.

Pursuing my love of language, I found an intensive work/study program in Israel where I could learn Hebrew while living on a collective farm called a kibbutz. Although my twin sister came with me on the trip, our paths soon diverged as we struggled to establish our own identities. By year’s end, we had each fallen in love with the men we would marry, and I would travel to France while my sister stayed behind.

Living in France and mastering another new language, I missed my sister deeply, yet also felt an odd sense of elation. Without my mirror twin, for the first time in my life, I was seen as an individual rather than a clone. Yet instead of “finding myself,” I noticed myself developing several distinct “selves.” Like nesting dolls, in addition to my American and English personae, Israeli and French girls were also growing inside me – each with her own language, clothes, experiences and behavior.

When I took my first memoir class, I only knew I wanted to tell my story, but since then the process has taken me on a new journey. As I learn the art and craft of memoir – how to use action, reflection, dialog and narrative to express my emotional truth – I also benefit enormously from the supportive guidance of the NAMW community. The self-knowledge and healing that come through writing our deepest truths becomes a great reward!



Paula Wagner, MA, RPC was born in London, grew up in the US and now lives in Albany, CA with her night owl husband who cheerfully puts up with her writing into the wee hours. When she’s not writing her memoir, she offers career counseling and resume writing through LifeWork Careers. Travel, swimming, river rafting, yoga and singing bring her great joy as well as her family of four children and eight grandchildren. She would love her two tortoise shell cats more if only they weren’t holy terrors.




February Member Teleseminar

1evanscwsExpressive Writing and the Healing Memoir

John Evans

February 19, 2016

11 am PST 12 pm MST 1 pm CST 2 pm EST

We are so pleased to have as our guest John Evans, author of several books on expressive writing and writing for healing. The most recent book is Expressive Writing: Words that Heal. John is engaged in research at Duke University Medical Center and Duke Integrative Medicine about writing as healing: Examining the role of Expressive Writing to improve resilience among those experiencing an emotional upheaval or a physical health challenge.

His is a significant voice in the growing conversation about how important writing is in our lives to heal—it changes lives, it makes a difference in how we feel about ourselves, our family, and our souls.

In this teleseminar John and I will talk about the well-known “The Pennebaker Paradigm,” a fruitful platform from which to dive into memoir writing.  Part of that paradigm includes layers of writing prompts. John will lead us through the prompts he uses that invite deep exploration and promote transformation.

John will discuss

  1. Expressive Writing as a  platform for memoir writing
  2. Transactional Writing for expressing compassion, gratitude, forgiveness
  3. Affirmative Writing to celebrate strengths
  4. Legacy Writing to express how you wish others to know you.

Read more here:

Expressive Writing - coverEvans works with groups, individuals, and health care professionals, teaching them how to use writing for better physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  He has authored five books and has taught journaling and writing for self-development for over thirty years. With James Pennebaker, Evans co-authored Expressive Writing: Words that Heal (2014). His book, Wellness & Writing Connections: Writing for Better Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health (2010), is a collection of essays from the Wellness & Writing Connections Conference Series (2007 – 2010). At Duke Integrative Medicine, Evans has taught, Caring for Caregivers, Legacy Writing, Transform Your Health: Write to Heal, Leading Patients in Writing for Health, and Writing as a Tool for Integrative Health Coaches. Currently, Evans blogs monthly for Psychology Today in Personal Perspectives.




Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler