News

The Changing Landscape of Memoir

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Remains of 14th century castle in England

Many of you know that the National Association of Memoir Writers and Write your Memoir in Six Months appeared in the New York Times last week in an article about the value of memoir writing. In the Retirement section on Saturdays in the Times, the columnist offers articles of interest to retirees. This week her focus was about the importance of memoir writing for elders and their families as a way to share family stories, and a way to get people to contemplate the meaning of their lives and their legacy. Brooke Warner and I were so pleased that our student in the Write Your Memoir in Six Months workshop, Bob Finertie, was featured in the article, and Bob himself was found in a daze of pleasure and shock that he was featured and photographed.

Mr. Finertie, of Walnut Creek, Calif., said it “has been a healing journey that has helped me reach so many things in my past. My wife says I have never been happier.”

To come up with a draft, which is now 100 pages, Mr. Finertie enrolled in online courses with the writing coach Brooke Warner. She, along with Linda Joy Myers, a Berkeley, Calif., psychologist, teaches “Write Your Memoirs in Six Months.”

Mr. Finertie said the classes helped him focus on the purpose of his memoir and connected him to other aspiring memoirists for inspiration and feedback. (From the article)

Naturally, we were jazzed to be “discovered” in the Google search, but it wasn’t too long ago that memoir writers suffered at the slings and arrows that appeared in a New York Times article by Neal Genzlinger who degraded the importance of memoir, and suggested that we should shut up since we’re focused on “Me,” on only ourselves and our lives, and not contributing to any meaningful literature.

During that same era, various agents and publishers predicted that memoir writing was “dead,” and that people simply needed to forget about it as a valid genre. Though some agents and publishers still hold this view, it’s a less powerful position now since the publishing world has changed so much. Writers have more power to share their stories with the world without encountering as many gatekeepers and barriers to publication. It’s important that publishing be taken seriously however, with writers doing their best to find out the appropriate professional presentation for their book. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to hire a tough editor and professional book designers so you can be proud of your book when it comes out, so it matches in professionalism the best of the books presented in the marketplace.

We are celebrating here at the National Association of Memoir Writers that memoir writers have been elevated as valid and acceptable in those pages three years after the Genzlinger article. Too often memoirists have been relegated to the bottom of the heap because we use “I” too often, or because we are digging around in the rich earth of our psyches uncovering the treasures of new insights and memories that offer a new lens through which to look at our lives. Most of you know that I have been a therapist for many years, and to me, the rewards for such digging are invaluable. Through writing our stories, we learn about ourselves in ways we never would have without writing and exploring the past this way. By applying the skills of craft to our memories and insights by creating believable characters, scenes, and a universal understanding or takeaway of the themes of our lives, we transform not only ourselves but potentially our readers—whether they are our family and friends, or new friends in the reading public.

We’re in the New York Times! | October Newsletter

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October 15, 2014

11retiring-pic2-articleLargeWe’re in the New York Times!

Did you see the article mentioning the National Association of Memoir Writers in the New York Times this week? The article about memoir writing appears in the October 11 edition in the retirement section—but as many of you know, memoir writing is for everyone, not only retirees. The columnist, Elizabeth Olsen, contacted me a few weeks ago, curious to learn more about memoir writing and asked how many people are interested in it, and how writing a memoir helps them in their lives. She found us through Google, which is great news.

 

Though one of the themes of her article was about retirees writing their life stories, the article goes beyond that as it discusses the importance for people to capture their story—for their own satisfaction as well as a gift and resource for their family. My colleague Brooke Warner was also interviewed and offered some terrific tips!

 

Here they are—thank you, Brooke, for sharing these with us.Brooke-2014

Brooke, founder and president of Warner Coaching, offers five tips for writing a memoir.

FIND A WRITING PARTNER and notify him or her by email when you start the day’s writing and when you sign off for the day — no matter whether you get an answer.

JOT DOWN ALL YOUR EXCUSES for not writing or not writing as much as you want to.

PAY YOURSELF FOR SHOWING UP to your writing sessions, even small amounts that you can later set aside to treat yourself or use to pay your writing business, if you have one; write the payment off as a business expense.

KEEP A DAILY JOURNAL on your progress. Record the date and time that you begin, how long you will work and what you will focus on. When you are finished for the day, evaluate your progress by noting how you felt about what you accomplished and, more objectively, how many words you wrote. Then, write down your goals for tomorrow.

TURN OFF your Internet, email and phone.

It’s not every day that your name gets in the New York Times, so I’m grateful that people can learn more about NAMW and the power and possibilities for memoir writing.

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October Events at the National Association of Memoir Writers

This month we have two presentations to help you in your writing life. As always, we have a free Roundtable every month, and this week we are going to explore the issue that memoir writers often struggle with: whether to present your life story in a non-fiction memoir, or to expand it as fiction. Sign up for this Roundtable discussion to receive the free audio download afterward as a resource for you to keep.

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October 16, Free Roundtable with Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottchalk

october-roundtableTHE BIG DECISION: MEMOIR OR FICTION? 

Time: 4 PM PDT 5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT

At this free Roundtable Teleseminar, we’re going to address a subject that memoir writers struggle with: whether to write their story as a memoir—everything is true!—or as autobiographical fiction—I made it up!

Many memoir writers struggle with this decision, so we’re pleased to present Mary Gottschalk and Carol Bodensteiner, who have gone from a corporate life to writing and publishing memoirs and fiction. They will discuss their often-parallel paths from business writing to creative writing, including their perspective on the differences between memoir and fiction.

 

Topics will include:

• Memoir vs. Fiction — choosing your genre
• Memoir as a “training tool”
• Getting past the facts
• Factual accuracy vs. spiritual / emotional truth
• The value of a writing group/partner
• Building the writer’s toolkit

Sign up here.

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October 24 NAMW Member Webinar

Betsy's PR Shot,_edited-1Date: October 24, 2014
Time: 11 am PDT 12 pm MDT 1 pm CDT 2 pm EDT
Expert: Betsy Graziani Fasbinder
Topic: Public Speaking for Writers and Other Introverts: Simple Mindshifts to Raise Your Confidence and Gather Devoted Fans

We’re so pleased to offer this special webinar to help you break out of your shyness and learn to present your new memoir to the world in a professional and confident manner.

The member webinar this month: Public Speaking for Writers and Other Introverts: Simple Mindshifts to Raise Your Confidence and Gather Devoted Fans with Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, an experienced author coach, writer, and prize winning author.

All members will receive the instructions for finding the webinar link and how to join the program. It’s a presentation only format—you will not be on the camera—and neither will we!

 

In this webinar, you will:

• Gather five mental shifts to instantly boost your confidence about public speaking
• Acquire simple tips that can help you connect with listeners
• Gain skills that can help you to be at your natural best in formal presentations, book launches, media interviews, and casual encounters.

To join this webinar learn more about becoming a member here.

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News from our Write Your Memoir Now Retreat

IMG_1765I just got back from a few days in New York City after leading our Write Your Memoir Now retreat with my colleagues Judy Mandel and Jerry Waxler. The landscape by the ocean was amazing, with clear skies and calm seas, except for Saturday when a big rainstorm made us glad we were inside writing!

On Friday night, we greeted the twenty-three people who had signed up for the retreat, learned the themes of their memoir and what they wanted to learn that weekend. We’d spent the afternoon informally getting acquainted over snacks and drinks, so by evening, many had made new writing friends. In a memoir workshop, people get to know each other deeply and intimately because of the nature of what is revealed in their stories. We dig into our lives, our memories, and the stories of our families, revealing many things we would not otherwise share. As always, there were tears, laughter, and sighs of recognition as people wrote and read their stories.

 

retreat-vAs the weekend continued on Saturday and Sunday, the depth and the challenges of each person’s story was revealed. Judy, Jerry, and I alternated the craft of memoir writing with the always present issues of truth, family, and the inner critic, and addressed the challenges that memoir writing presents.

By Sunday afternoon, everyone was tired, and we knew that many layers of stories, hearts, and hopes had been revealed. As people said goodbye, it was clear that several of the group members had become best friends. In my years of teaching of memoir, I’ve seen retreats like this to be a hugely transformative process, one that gives back insights and wisdom. As the weekend ended, many of the writers talked about such a transformation.  NAMW is looking at how, where, and when to offer another retreat next year. Stay in touch!

 

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Breaking Silence Teleconference

 

bysOne thing that was clear in our teaching at the retreat is that all memoir writers struggle with exposing and expressing their truth. They have been silenced for years, and are trying to heal the past as they write their stories. Learning this from yet another memoir group made me glad that we are offering our special Breaking Silence Teleconference in November. If you sign up now, you get the early bird rate and two special bonus gifts.

Hope to see you at the conference!

It’s time to find your voice and break your silence — and write the memoir you want to write! During this day long teleconference, we will be addressing the “secret” issue of shame for writers. We call the voice that creates writer’s block the ”Inner Critic,” but at the core of the Inner Critic is shame and doubt. Please join these amazing women who are willing to share their stories of shame, doubt, and how they have broken through and helped others find their voice. I’m so pleased to have with me at this conference Sue William Silverman, Amy Ferris, Amy Friedman and Brooke Warner.

The talented and courageous presenters of this conference have worked with layers of shame and writing truth in their writing, teaching, and publishing, and have helped many writers find their voices and get their unique and important stories of love, suffering, courage, and trauma out into the world.
Topics and speakers:
  • Confessional and (Finally) Proud of It by Sue William Silverman
  • Awakening to your greatness by Amy Ferris
  • Breaking Open: The Heart of Writing Memoir—Courage and Permission to Write Your Truth by Linda Joy Myers
  • Writing Your Memoir: After the Sorrow and Anger by Amy Friedman
  • Writing Shame and Trauma for Publication—How to Write in the Space between What Happened and What People Can Handle by Brooke Warner

Read more about the conference here.

Back to School/Labor day Sale–Celebrating New Beginnings

Here at NAMW, we think of Labor Day and Back to School as a chance for new beginnings. To us, the start of September is a time to pick up projects that might have languished over the summer. It’s a time to refocus and reset our goals. So we say, let’s KICKSTART our focus with a sale on NAMW annual membership!

To celebrate new beginnings, NAMW is offering $20 off the cost of an annual membership from today through Wednesday September 3rd!

NAMW new Memberships are now just $149 $129 Add to Cart
NAMW Renewals are $139 $119 Add to Cart

Become a member today!

Current and lapsed members are encouraged to take advantage of this sale!

If you’re still unsure about joining, here are just a few great reasons why it pays to be a NAMW member:
• FREE access to Live Monthly Teleseminars and FREE downloadable recordings of over 70 archived Teleseminars
• Free downloadable recordings of our past Telesummits, with valuable topics such as “From Story to Sold! Becoming a Successful Memoir Author”
• Special Member Discounts for Workshops, Online Classes, and Webinars
• Receive three FREE e-books on the memoir-writing craft by renowned authors
• PDF download of the NAMW e-Book: Memoir Writing as a Healing Journey by Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.
• Access to information on contests, grants, and publishers as well as exposure to cutting-edge news and information about the memoir-writing field
• Opportunities to share your successes and new publications with other memoir writers and ask questions on our NAMW Members-Only Facebook group

…And much, much more!

It’s simple! NAMW new Memberships are now just $149 $129 Add to Cart
NAMW Renewals are $139 $119 Add to Cart

We hope in the spirit of the new “school year,” you’ll decide to take your relationship with NAMW to the next level and join as a member.

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Our September Member Teleseminar is already upgraded to a Webinar with Michele DeFilippo and Sonia Marsh–a dynamic way to learn. We Do Judge a Book by its Cover–Secrets You Don’t Know About Book Cover Design. When you become a member, you automatically receive the member Teleseminars for a full year for free.

 

 

 

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New Beginnings Retreat Discount

Last chance discount for our Memoir Writing Retreat Write Your Memoir Now!

We have a wonderful group already registered, and there are a few openings left for this three day opportunity to be immersed in your memoir and learn from our three experts how you can write and publish your book.

Save $100. Just a few spots left.

To learn about the retreat and see the full schedule for the weekend click here.

Please email us at customersupport@namw.org if you have any questions.

Here’s to new beginnings!

 

We DO Judge a Book by Its Cover—Secrets You Don’t Know About Book Cover Design – See more at: http://www.namw.org/2014/08/we-do-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-secrets-you-dont-know-about-book-cover-design/#sthash.i2FleXlD.dpuf
We DO Judge a Book by Its Cover—Secrets You Don’t Know About Book Cover Design – See more at: http://www.namw.org/2014/08/we-do-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-secrets-you-dont-know-about-book-cover-design/#sthash.i2FleXlD.dpuf

What Does Self-discovery Have to do With Memoir Writing? | August Member Teleseminar

NAMW Member Teleseminar with Jackie Swensen

August 22, 2014

11 AM PDT 12 PM MDT 1 PM CDT 2 PM EDT

 

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Many memoir writers come to their stories from having journaled much of their lives, so we are pleased to offer an expert on journaling and healing to present this August member teleseminar, Jackie Swensen.

Memoir writing requires a host of narrative skills to transform a person’s memories into something that appeals to a wide audience. For example, a sharp eye for detail, a sensitivity to nuances and subtleties of expression, and the kind of empathy that can make even flawed characters sympathetic. Memoir writers also need tenacity to keep digging for truth, especially when faced with a tangled web of conflicting stories. To accomplish that feat requires a high level of self-knowledge.

Society doesn’t really encourage self-reflection and most Americans think of themselves as doers, people of action. So action often trumps reflection. But memoir writers must reflect on a subject purposefully to understand the mysteries of human behavior. In over 20 years as a psychoanalyst, I’ve found journaling to be an effective tool for reflection and self-discovery, and for gaining insights into others. Journaling has proven to be a valuable resource for many of my clients, and so I created Journal to Health™ in order to introduce it to a wider audience.

We will discuss:
• The intellectual underpinnings of self-knowledge
• Freud’s self-analysis, which he conducted by writing
• The value of journaling as seen by a psychoanalyst
• Why I developed Journal to Health™: A Site for Self-Discovery
• How a daily journaling exercise can help memoir writers tune into themselves

Jacqueline Swensen is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She is a board and faculty member of the Center for Human Development, a psychoanalytic institute. Jackie is the founder of Journal to Health: A Site for Self-Discovery, which is an online journaling website that launched on June 1. The member’s journals are password-protected and encrypted, can be organized by topic and subtopic, which makes it ideal for memoir writers. It is easy-to-use, customizable and includes a Discovery section that will spur your creativity and give you a place to rejuvenate your mind and your spirit.

www.journaltohealth.com
www.pinterest.com/JournaltoHealth/
www.facebook.com/JournaltoHealth
www.drswensen.com

We hope you can join us live for this discussion, and bring your questions with you. If you are a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers, you will be able to join the call and receive the audio. To learn more about becoming a member and receiving all the benefits of members, please visit our web site www.namw.org.

 

Writing Bestselling Memoirs Without Throwing Everyone Under the Bus

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July Member Teleseminar  with Linda Watanabe McFerrin

July 25, 2014

11 AM PDT  12 PM MDT   1 PM CDT  2 PM EDT

 

Any professional editor will tell you that the key to writing a fantastic, bestselling memoir is drama and relevance, but sometimes it hard to amp up the intensity without causing major collateral damage with family, community or friends, not to mention ex-spouses and lovers.
In this seminar you will learn how to take those quiet moments and turn them into spellbinding revelations and how to do it without throwing all of your friends and loved ones under the bus.

You’ll learn:
• How to use literary craft to create tension and drama.
• How to build suspense.
• How to make sure your story connects with a wide audience while remaining your story.
• How to build in relevance.
• How to write in a way to which agents, editors, publishers and, yes, loved ones too, will respond.
• How to use bestselling fiction techniques in real-life storytelling.

Linda Watanabe McFerrin) is the author of two poetry collections and a winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Her novel, Namako: Sea Cucumber, was named Best Book for the Teen-Age by the New York Public Library. In addition to authoring an award-winning short story collection, The Hand of Buddha, she has co-edited several anthologies, including the Hot Flashes: sexy little stories & poems series. Her latest novel, Dead Love (Stone Bridge Press, 2009), was short-listed as a finalist in the 2007 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Competition and was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Superior Achievement in a Novel in 2009.
Linda has judged the San Francisco Literary Awards, the Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence and the Kiriyama Prize. A past NEA Panelist and juror for the Marin Literary Arts Council and the founder of Left Coast Writers®, she has led workshops in many countries and has mentored a long list of accomplished writers and best-selling authors toward publication. www.lwmcferrin.com

 

Become a Member Today!

Breaking Silence Conference

Date: November 14, 2014
Topic: "Healing Shame and Writing the Truth in Memoir"

It’s time to find your voice and break your silence — and write the memoir you want to write! During this day long teleconference, we will be addressing the “secret” issue of shame for writers. We call the voice that creates writer’s block the ”Inner Critic,” but at the core of the Inner Critic is shame and doubt. Please join these amazing women who are willing to share their stories of shame, doubt, and how they have broken through and helped others find their voice.
Read More

Testimonials

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