Cyber Monday Membership Sale–Join National Association of Memoir Writers Today


Sale: Sunday, November 29- Tuesday, December 1, 2015

You have a story in your heart. The National Association of Memoir Writers wants to help you put those memories on paper. Memoir writers love to reminisce and think about relationships that have shaped their lives. “Remember when we…” and “I want to share my grandmother with everyone–she was such a sweet person.”  How about “Those were amazing times and I want people to know the history and my part in it.”

44241216_sOur annual Cyber Monday sale is here! Time to embrace your inner voice, to share with the world what you’ve learned in your walk through this glorious process we call life. As a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers, you benefit from a variety of events such as our members-only virtual seminars, group coaching, and over 80 audios of previous NAMW events. Join us for group coaching every month to talk about the book you’re writing and the topics that excite you to write your book.

Getting to know all of you is so inspiring for me. I see that creating the National Association of Memoir Writers is helping people write their stories and that we all are connecting with others who are passionate in the same way. Most memoir writers are inspired by memories–and movies, videos, photographs, and….writing prompts—one of the benefits of our sale. Read more about our Membership Benefits here–learn how to use the audios and teleseminars we offer through NAMW all year long as you work on your memoir.

NEW 12 Month Membership $99

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RENEWAL 12 Month Membership $97

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You will receive these two free gifts with your purchase of a new membership or renewal during Cyber Monday:

Gift # 1

You will receive MY MEMOIR ORGANIZER, tabs with themes for your memoir that will fit into your binder. It includes a attractive vintage-style photo insert “My Memoir” that offers a welcoming place to gather your stories and start to feel that you have a book!
my_memoir_binder-with-tabs-visibleThis year’s tabs include:

  • Childhood memories
  • Roots and Legacies
  • Mother
  • Father
  • Holidays
  • Love and Marriage
  • Houses
  • Secrets and Hidden Truths…
  • and more.

Inside the tabs, will find over 90 writing prompts, a timeline tool template to help you chart out your life and the plot of your memoir, a list of dozens of memoir topics, and writing tips to get you started and keep you going to “The End” of your memoir. You know how helpful it is to have writing prompts–they get you started with themes and ideas that add to the story you want to tell and evoke your memories. These prompts cover the significant moments that are common to all of us, yet are unique to you.

Every year, we ship out a LOT of these, so sign up today and get yours in the mail before Christmas! Start the year with a way to organize your writing and your new inspirational prompts. They are great as gifts to your friends and family!


Gift #2

Audio and Transcript of four session course taught by Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner:
wildWhat Made Wild a Best-selling Memoir?

It’s not often that a memoir grabs the attention of the world, stays on the New York Times bestseller list for months, and gets made into a movie. But Cheryl Strayed’s Wild did just that. Brooke Warner and I decided to take a deep look into what made Wild a bestseller, combing through for examples that could help the memoir writers we teach to learn about the skills she used, and draw from them for their own writing.

In Wild, Strayed uses what’s called a framed structure—she writes the story of her life, using her time on the Pacific Crest Trail as a frame to contain her story. In this four-session course you will learn about the writing skills she used to create an amazing story: structure; transitions; flashbacks vs. memory; and takeaway. You will not only learn to use these skills in your own writing, through our examples in the course and the teaching of these skills, you’ll even appreciate the book much more. You’ll see how you need to pay attention to the structure of your own story, and how to use flashbacks to enhance the “now” story line. You’ll learn what takeaway is and why you must have it so agents and editors will pay attention to your story, so they’ll see what makes your story universal and create a memoir that will sell. People who have taken the course tell us that it has helped them see what they need to do with their story to make it  as potentially successful memoir that will reach the hearts of their readers.


Memoir as Legacy—The Power of Remembering by Linda Joy Myers

Photo credit:

Photo credit: love the word “remember.” It means to bring together the pieces of your life, your legacy, the wisdom of those who have gone before you. Whether we realize it or not, as we live our lives we’re passing on traditions—through holiday rituals, family sayings and mythology. There is an “us” in the rituals of weddings, funerals, baby showers, and all the celebrations of life–birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, graduations. As we live these traditions, we create records of these moments, photos that will appear in memory books.

I’ll never forget the joy of digging in the old cardboard shoebox of black and white photos my great-grandmother Blanche would drag out year after year. She’d pick up each one, sigh, and start to tell the story. As the years went by, I picked up enough stories to help me know where I came from, my heritage—strong, stubborn Midwestern people who settled the early Iowa farmlands; beautiful women who tried to break away from the “shoulds” and bondage of expectations for women—but with a cost.

Memoir and family story-telling is about creating a legacy and heritage, exploring where you came from so you can know better where you are going—and perhaps how you might want to change that legacy. Every time I read stories about someone’s family history, I’m impressed how memoirists are creating a historical record of how life is being lived now. In a short time, your today becomes your yesterday. What are you preserving for your family?

Libraries collect diaries and journals from “ordinary people” as a record of how we have been living through time. Families have tucked away unpublished memoirs and/or diaries of family members, fascinated by details of family history that they otherwise would not know.  It’s especially gratifying when we learn about how someone felt or what they thought—we’re frustrated with lists about the weather or just facts, but that’s often what was preserved from generations who felt that personal details should be kept private. In this era of Facebook and public sharing, I wonder if diaries and journals will offer more juicy details in the archives we leave behind.

Truth and Secrets

In my work as a writing coach, many people ask this question: “What about secrets—what do we include in a memoir that’s for the family?  I want to keep the darker stories, the moments of drama private, but they’re the most interesting things that happened.”

Some people write two versions of their memoir—the “lighter” version and a more truthful one. Many people who start to write a memoir find themselves spinning out stories they’ve never told, but the memories start flying out of the end of the fingers and end up on the page. This can feel kind of scary, as if the “writing self” is out of control. As a therapist and writing coach, I believe that these stories need to come out of you, they need to be told.

Allow yourself to be your own witness to your true and honest life. You are just writing when you start, you’re not publishing yet. You can write in private to explore your inner life and parts of yourself you may not be aware of—and what a journey of self-discovery that can be! Save your drafts, and later you can decide what to publish.

Light and Dark Stories

To choose the stories that you want to write, create a list of lighter stories—the humorous ones, the ones with inspiring lessons you want to leave your descendants, and write these first.  If you’ve started remembering other stories you feel less comfortable with, keep in mind that they are calling out to be written. Once you have put them on the page, you might gain a new perspective on these memories. As I wrote my memoir Don’t Call Me Mother, I interleafed the lighter, happier chapters with the darker more painful ones. After writing the deeper truths of your life, you might feel relieved, even if you’re feeling emotional about these stories. You can put them away for a while as you weigh the pros and cons of sharing them. Let them marinate in the drawer until you decide.

Life is composed of variations on themes of pain and pleasure, light and dark moments for everyone. Perhaps the stories you don’t want anyone to know about have a valuable lesson to be learned—they are probably some of the most significant moments of your life. As you assemble your vignettes or chapters, write at the bottom of each one what you learned. What was the takeaway for you having lived these moments? These are your wisdom legacies.

The Family Memoir

I’m coaching many memoirists who are compiling the stories from their grandparents and great-grandparents to preserve the family history.  They say “I’m writing my grandparents’ memoir,” but in truth they are writing their own memoir and including family stories from the point of view of another person.  A family memoir is a great project. It’s considered non-traditional in the publishing world because you have to imagine and make up some of the details about the inner experience of that “character.” You can research the historical era and background of your family members to fill in details, but when you are in the third person, you’re essentially writing fiction because you are not that person. Jeannette Walls got around this problem by writing Half-Broke Horses as a “true life novel.” She didn’t have enough details of what happened in her grandmother’s life for a memoir, and she wanted to be free to imagine the feeling and point of view of her grandmother.

But you can imagine what happened, and let the reader know that you’re compiling information and the story that’s unfolding is imagined. John Lanchester’s book A Family Romance is a good example of this. On a quest for truth after the death of his mother, he draws from his extensive research to enter the heads of all four grandparents and his parents. The details he discovered in his research created a vibrant story of the times, circumstances, customs, and point of view of all concerned as he unraveled the mystery of his mother’s life—and the truths that had been hidden for decades. I recommend the book as an example of a way to present the family legacy.

Begin now!

The important thing is to get started with your family legacy story, and your own.

  • Write down the significant moments of your life and your family history.
  • Make a timeline so you can see how the years evolved.
  • Research the how the history of the world intersected with your family history on the Internet.
  • Join or other genealogical sites to find out more about your family.


Upcoming Events

Shades of Blue coverOCTOBER 15, 2015 7-8PM



Address: Bay Street Emeryville, 5604 Bay St, Emeryville, CA 94608

Phone:(510) 547-0905

I’ll be joining Amy Ferris, editor of Shades of Blue, Brooke Warner, Founder She Writes Press, Author of What’s Your Book? And Hollye Dexter, Fire Season for a panel discussion about using stories to save lives.



Memoir Conference—Memories Are Made of This    

October 23-25, 2015

Los Angeles Valley College, 5800 Fulton Ave, Van Nuys CA


Saturday Keynote Luncheon
October 24, 12:30 pm

The Heart and Craft of Writing a Successful Memoir
Ms. Myers will reveal how to dig deep into the truth of your life and examine the essential elements of craft to help you write the best memoir. Bring your heart — your past, your secrets and your challenges — to your work, and draw upon the craft of story to author a memoir that will keep readers turning the page.


Sunday workshop

Write Your Legacy Memoir

You have a story to tell—many stories that you want to share with your family. It’s a deeply meaningful act to write your story well so generations that come after you can learn about who you were, and where you came from. You are the only one who can tell your stories the way they need to be told. Learn how to use craft to create stories that your family will treasure forever.

Learn more here


November 19, 2015


I’m excited to join Amy Ferris and other authors for the L.A. launch of her new anthology Shades Of Blue. I’ll be reading my piece from the book, along with Jennifer Pastiloff, David Lacy, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, and Hollye Dexter.
The event is sponsored by The Depressed Cake Shop. This is a “This Is My Brave” event.




Panel Discussion with Writers on Suicide/Depression

Sunday, November 22nd at 2pm

Barnes & Noble Bookstore

5604 Bay Street. Emeryville, CA

Shades of Blue cover Guardian of Golden Gate

Meet Betsy Graziani Fasbinder & Linda Joy Meyers, contributing authors of Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide, & Feeling Blue

Meet Kevin Briggs, author of Guardian of the Golden Gate: Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair

The 3 Most Common Questions about Writing a Memoir

manuscript spread-5-30-15

The three most common problems in writing a memoir:

1. How do I start?
2. What do I include?
3. Where does it all go?

By starting with significant turning points you will soon find yourself thinking about important scenes that address your theme(s). Creating a structure that works helps you to figure out how to weave your scenes and moments together. It becomes easier to write a longer form work when we are focused and know how to plan out the trajectory of our writing.

1.List the most significant moments in your life, ideally those that illuminate the questions, topics, and themes of your memoir.

List 10-20 of these turning point moments—the goal is to focus on specific situations, challenges, important moments that you can turn into scenes. These will be moments that created movement in your life, big changes. And ideally for your memoir, they will address your theme. The theme might have to do with travel, transformation, recovery, or healing; the theme might be coming of age, or how your grandmother’s cooking inspired you to become a chef, or how you survived an abusive relationship. There are moments in everyone’s life that make a difference, that stand out in our memories. Since memoir is about memories, sifting through the many hundreds and thousands to pinpoint significant times helps us contain the overwhelm that can come when starting to write –or even think about writing—a memoir.

After you make your list of turning points, locate them on a timeline. Draw a long horizontal line—preferably on a large piece of paper, and divide it into decades. Then draw vertical lines where you will notate the name of the scene or turning points in the time frame. Do this for all your turning points. Notice how your significant moments may cluster; notice how the moments that created change for you are coordinating with other events—national or international. These could be a war, a tornado or hurricane, the election of a president, or the death of someone famous. Your events might coordinate with important family events like weddings, funerals, births and family reunions. List everything on your timeline that you think will be helpful to give a context to your scenes and memories.

2.Include only what is necessary. Sure, that’s simple advice but how can you do that?
You might start with your title—a working title that helps to define your theme. Wild is about one woman’s journey through the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail and how that journey helps her heal her past. In Lovesick by Sue William Silverman weaves her struggle with healing sex addiction with her memories of abuse by her father. The title of my memoir Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness shows the arc of my story and the theme of mother-daughter abandonment. To keep the focus of my theme, I edited out 55,000 words from the last draft. Eat, Pray Love is what we call a formulaic memoir that provides a clear goal for each section of the book—eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Indonesia. The title includes the themes and provides a structure.

Topics and Themes
List the topics and themes that your memoir covers—at first brainstorm them: for instance the list could include recovery, love, loss and a job search, all significant moments. After you list your themes, write about each one, what you think you want to say, why it needs to be included and how important you think each one is. You’ll find yourself focusing more on one or two themes.
Write about why you want to write your memoir and the message you want to deliver to your audience. That will help you get clear on your themes.

3. It’s a challenge to choose your structure but here’s a tip: most often a linear chronological structure—point A to Point B is the easiest and best way to tell your story.

For memoirs that go back and forth in time, a braided memoir is a good choice. For instance, you would weave present and past in alternating chapters. Wild is a framed memoir—where the main story is on the trail while Strayed picks up threads from the past and weaves them in through flashbacks. Coming of age memoirs often are best with a linear structure. You are growing up in the story as it progresses, learning and changing and gaining new insights. A linear structure works well for psychological development and transformation. The best way to get clear about the structure is to list your turning point dates including the locations, your age, and the year so you can see how the theme and time frames line up.

All these craft factors will come together as you work with them. It’s clear that writing a memoir is indeed a process—challenging but so rewarding! It takes time to sort things out, but every time you make lists, brainstorm, and research how other authors have solved these problems you are solving the challenges of writing, and creating success that help you write a successful book.

Learn more about craft through other articles on our blog, and at our Magic of Memoir conference Oct. 17-18 in Berkeley, CA.


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