Author Archives: Erica

July Roundtable Discussion – FREE to All

Sharon and CarolThe Rewards of Private Publication

Sharon Lippincott and Carol Broz

Thursday July 7


What do you do when your story seems too personal or controversial to share with the world at large, but you want your family to have the option of ordering copies any time? Do you wonder if it’s worth the effort and whatever expense to publishing a finished volume that you will never promote and few will read? Join us as Sharon Lippincott and Carol Broz talk about how Carol solved puzzles like these before publishing a family history memoir.

Four generations of Carol’s family had lived in the same small community in western Pennsylvania, often at the mercy of progress. Carol heard these stories as she grew up, and noticed quirks of various family members as well as stories of tragedies and triumphs. As she grew older, she became burningly curious to know more facts about historical events and to gain more insight into complex personalities and relationships within the family.

Finally, after holding onto information unearthed by her parents, adding to their research, using compiled notes, and mining memories of family members, a coherent image gradually emerged. She spent years writing stories about family members, obtaining feedback from writing groups along the way. Eventually she compiled a volume of family stories, using accounts of personal experiences to tie them together. She explains:

As I wrote, I determined to tell the family’s story with truth and honesty to the best of my ability. I was determined to help family members understand the forces that helped shape us all into the people we are today, and to do it with love and compassion. My intent was to inform, to make future generations aware that they are descended from tough, strong stock, able to survive hardships and obstacles.

Carol did battle with her inner critic all along, and when a valued family member expressed objections that critic went on steroids. Ultimately that critic was tamed and she distributed finished copies to dozens of family members. Grateful responses continue to pour in.

Sharon and Carol will talk with me about these points:

  • How to decide between public and private publishing.
  • How to make your book available to family without inviting the world to buy it.
  • Working with your inner critic to make an informed choice.
  • Dancing with the elephant when family members disagree.
  • Value to family members of sharing these stories and rewards of doing so.


Short bios:

Carol Broz initially chose to mask her identity and keep her book title private for reasons we’ll talk about in the program. She hopes that sharing the story of her writing process and publishing decision will help others with similar dilemmas discover the benefits of publishing small.

Sharon Lippincott, a member of the NAMW Advisory Board, lives in Austin and teaches lifestory and related creative writing classes. As a friend of Carol Broz, she has followed the progress of this book for years. She prepared the book for publication and helped Carol find a publishing strategy that worked.


Listen to the recording below:


June 30, 2016


Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers

Scene: The Master Tool of Memoir Writing

Brooke and Linda Joy

In this free hour-long webinar, Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers are tackling the single-most important element of craft you need to master to write good memoir: scene. Anyone who reads and loves memoir knows that scenes are what makes your story come alive. But it goes deeper than that. Good scene writing can change your and your readers’ lives. How you write your memoir, with scenes that reach out and invite your reader to experience what you lived through, is the root of transformation, and the ticket to creating a work that resonates and stays with your reader, and that agents and editors will see as sellable.

  • The key elements that make scenes come alive.
  • Narration in scene and how and when to use it.
  • The single most powerful gift you can give yourself when you’re writing scenes.
  • How to track the arc of your scenes so you see the beginning, middle, and end.
  • Transitions and how they connect your scenes together.

Sign up here for this free webinar on writing scenes—the most important tool in your writing toolbox.

We look forward to seeing you there!



Featured NAMW Member – Joan Z. Rough

SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go

SCATTERING-ASHES-dragged-663x1024Feeling responsible for her mother’s care as her health declines, Joan invites her mother to move in with her. While facing continued ailments and eventually her mother’s stage four lung cancer, they struggle to maintain their own privacy and independence. Though Joan longs to be the “good daughter,” helping her narcissistic mother face the reality of her coming death, her mother, sure she will live forever, does everything she can to remain in control of her life. When repressed memories of being abused by her mother when she was a child arise, Joan fills with deep resentment and hatred toward the woman who birthed her. When her mother dies almost seven years later, Joan is left with a diagnosis of PTSD, intense bitterness, and a bag of her mother’s ashes. Five years and four different “Letting Go” rituals later, Joan discovers her own true identity, finds forgiveness for her mother and herself, as she reassembles the broken pieces of her life.

This story is for adult children left with the emptiness of investing themselves in a loving yet hateful relationship with an aging parent and the challenge of renewal when their loved one is gone. It’s loaded with themes of love, guilt, condemnation, heroism, hatred, dedication, perseverance, loneliness, regrets, PTSD, substance abuse, forgiveness, healing, and humor.



DSC_2620Joan Z. Rough is a visual artist and writer. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, and is included in Mariflo Stephens’ anthology, Some Say Tomato. At one time, a fiber artist and raiser of sheep and angora goats, Joan’s first book, AUSTRALIAN LOCKER HOOKING: A New Approach to a Traditional Craft, was published in 1980. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, Bill, her two dogs, Sam and Max, and crazy cat Lilliput. When she’s not making art or writing, she can be found taking long walks, tending her garden, and enjoying the natural world.


How I Dared Tell My Story: Navigating Family and Community

Leah Lax
June Member Teleseminar
June 17
11 AM PDT  12 PM MDT  1 PM CDT  2 PM EDT

Leah Lax bookUncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home, by Leah Lax, is about how she left an insular religious society and came out as a lesbian. This will be the first time she speaks about the impact of publishing her book on her relationships with family and community—and about what she has learned.


Leah says this about her journey:

The conundrum of writing memoir is that although memoir seems to imply a solo journey, we’re societal creatures, family creatures, and to write well we have to show ourselves within our worlds. Other people on the page have to be active and vivid even though we often don’t have permission to tell their stories. I will share my experience trying to navigate that tangle, both the successes and the fallout.


The Hasidic society has, informally, banned my book. Those of my seven children who remained in the fold were rocked by the publication, and the one who lives at the center of the movement has cut all contact—this in spite of my commitment from the outset to write a loving personal journey and not an expose or diatribe. But for those who actually agreed to read it, the experience of reading was course-changing.


Here’s what members may gain from participating in this discussion:

  • I’ll share how I tried to prepare my family before my book was published. You’ll hear what worked…and what didn’t. You’ll hear the varieties of reactions among them, including the unexpected outcomes.
  • You’ll see one memoirist’s use of craft as a tool to navigate through the web of stories; we’ll talk about point of view above all, but also theme, and finding a through line through the stories that surrounded us—which can be particularly challenging for wives and mothers.
  • Most important, I think, is the opportunity to discuss this topic that so deeply affects us among other memoirists. Writers, by our very existence, are fundamentally opposed to censorship, but how do we negotiate that when it comes to loved ones?



Lax bio photo(1)Leah Lax has written award-winning fiction and nonfiction as well as an opera for the Houston Grand Opera. Her work has appeared in many places, including Salon, Dame, Lilith, and in anthologies by Seal Press and North Atlantic, but her memoir, Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home, by She Writes Press, is her first book. Among its many accolades, Uncovered was finalist for four different literary prizes, and was featured on NPR and at the Library of Congress. Leah is now working with composer Lori Laitman creating an opera based on her memoir.




Here’s my book:


And here’s an excerpt of Uncovered on the Advocate that shows an important piece of my story set squarely within the tangle of family:



June Roundtable Discussion – FREE to All

Inventing the Memoir: Truth Can Be Stronger Than Fiction

Amye ArcherAmye Archer

June 9


When I first started writing my memoir, I was nervous that it wasn’t interesting enough. After all, I was only 33. What life experience could I possibly cobble together to create a memoir? Mine was a story about being unhappily married and divorced and fat, and nothing else really.  There’s no big plot twist, no tragic deaths. So when a publisher showed interest and asked me to change my story to fiction, I didn’t hesitate. I rewrote the book four times as fiction. I killed my best friend, let my ex back into my bed, and essentially undid all of the progress I had made in real life during that year. What I realized was this: people stopped relating to the material as strongly as they did when it was memoir. As memoir, when I would read excerpts, I would have women and men approach me afterwards and tell me that they too have felt the heft of Fat Girl, Skinnyweight on their chest, the worm of self-loathing in their brains. What’s interesting about my memoir, is that it’s true. As memoir, I was embracing the reader. As fiction, I was holding the reader at arms length.

*You are never too young to write a memoir; everyone has a story buried somewhere inside.
*The strength of memoir lies in our ability to tap into the universal truth that connects us.
*Tips for writing that universal truth, finding truth in identity.
*Why memoir is different than fiction.



Amye Archer holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, and currently teaches at The University of Scranton. Amye’s full-length poetry collection, Bangs, was released in 2014. She has also published two chapbooks: A Shotgun Life and No One Ever Looks Up.  Amye’s work has appeared in Nailed Magazine, PMS: Poem Memoir Story, PANK, and various journals. She currently lives in Northeast, PA, with her husband, Tim, and their twin daughters Samantha and Penelope.



Listen to the recording below:


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