Public Memoir Roundtables

Memoir Challenge #1–Wrestling the Truth in Your Memoir


Roundtable Discussion
October 8, 2015
Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter in conversation with Linda Joy Myers

As memoir writers, we approach the page with a powerful story to tell, one that won’t let us go. We start out great, writing, journaling, dreaming and thinking about our story, but then the energy starts to slow down. We look for reasons not to write, we stumble over our words. A voice inside our head says, “Don’t say that. You can’t tell people THAT!” The silencing and freak out begins.
The wrestling match starts as we write the truths that have been hidden for so long, and as we pull back either in shame or feeling that we will be judged by our family and friends.

Amy FerrisOur guests at this week’s Roundtable discussion know all about this. Amy Ferris, author of Marrying George Clooney, writes every day about being brave and writing and saying your truth on her Facebook page to help inspire writers and—well, just everyone. But it wasn’t easy for her to write her book about menopause, her mother, and many personal thoughts and feelings. Hollye Dexter’s book Fire Season is about losing everything in a fire that destroyed her house and nearly killed her and her family. They had to jump out windows to escape. But the fire that doesn’t kill you will still burn your psyche for years to come. Her story is about how the fire destroyed more than material possessions, how it challenged the foundations of her being, affecting relationships, her marriage, and her sense of self.

In writing my new memoir, I’ve found that it’s one thing to write honestly about childhood, and anHollye new headshotother to write about being an adult, and making the choices I did. Writing a memoir exposes you down to your roots, and yet, the genre demands that we do our best to dig all the way down to write an authentic story that is our truth.

Please join us for a deep and inspiring discussion about truth with Amy and Hollye. It will give you food for thought about your own story and how to wrestle with your truths.


We will talk about:

  • Techniques that have helped these authors dig into their truths.
  • The problem with shame and how to work through it.
  • How worries about family criticism gets in the way–and how to write anyway.
  • Digging deep to find our own real truths.
  • How writing our deepest truths changes our lives.

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Hollye Dexter is author of the memoir Fire Season (She Writes Press, 2015) and co-editor of Dancing at the Shame Prom (Seal Press). An NIEA finalist for best memoir, FIRE SEASON was chosen by First For Women Magazine as one of their six top summer reads, and was excerpted by Reader’s Digest for their Thanksgiving issue. Hollye’s essays and articles about women’s issues, activism and parenting have been published in anthologies as well as in Maria Shriver’s Architects of Change, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, Writer’s Digest and more. In 2003, she founded the award-winning nonprofit Art and Soul, running arts workshops for teenagers in the foster care system. She currently teaches writing workshops and works as an activist for gun violence prevention in L.A., where she lives with her husband and a houseful of kids and pets.

Amy Ferris is an author, screenwriter, essayist, playwright and editor. She edited the upcoming new anthology Shades of Blue, to be released October, 2015. her memoir, marrying george clooney, confessions from a midlife crisis (seal press) was adapted in an off-broadway play in 2012. she has written films (mr. wonderful, anthony minghella, director and funny valentines, julie dash, director), tv, and has contributed to numerous anthologies, including the one she co-edited, dancing at the shame prom (seal press). she was guest editor-in-chief for two magazine, glossies, where she created the annual all women’s issue. amy lives in pennsylvania with her husband and two cats. she is very content on most days.


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Memoir as Looking Glass–Free Roundtable Discussion about Memoir Writing Challenges


Memoir-of-RecoveryDate: September 10, 2015

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

I’m pleased to have a conversation during our free Roundtable discussion in September with author Marilea Rabasa, author of Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Some of the themes of this book will be familiar to most of you: childhood and family events that shape a whole life, generational patterns that are hard to break, and the theme of how addiction spreads its sad gifts to everyone in the family. It’s a mother-daughter book, a book about family, what we treasure and what we are ashamed of. It’s a brave story that Marilea tells, and we will learn more from her about her journey. Marilea will talk about her writing process, finding the layers of her story and digging deeper into the truth as she wrote. And we will talk about the topic of pseudonyms and why Marilea chose to publish under another name.

You will learn:
• How to dig deep into your own story—and then go even further than you thought you could
• How Marliea learned more about herself and helped to heal her past by writing her memoir
• The reasons that she decided to use a pseudonym when she published her book
• How to tell the truth and still keep connections with your family

Listen  to the recording here.


Marilea grew up in New England in a small Massachusetts town. How she got from there to the desert Southwest is an interesting tale.

For a number of years she was an ESL teacher in northern Virginia. Before that, she lived overseas in the Foreign Service. Just as she provided “springboards” for her students in writing class, her travels are something that she draws from to write stories.

She lives with her partner in New Mexico where they grow fruit in their orchard. They still get away to enjoy hiking all over the United States.

5 Tools to Fuel Your Writing & Creative Process


Free Roundtable Discussion—Beth Barany

August 6, 2015


There are three main turning points to the writing process: the start, the middle, and the end. Writers often find themselves stuck in one of these three places. When you get stuck, everything grinds to a screeching halt, and we are tempted to abandon our project—book, essay, chapter. We experience this as writer’s block, and are bound by massive frustration, procrastination, or tearing out our hair while crying.

In this conversation with Linda Joy Myers, founder and president of National Association of Memoir Writers, and Beth Barany, award-winning novelist and creativity coach for writers, you’ll learn about 5 tools to help you get back to writing your story.

In this lively conversation between teachers and lovers of story, you’ll discover:

  • How planning can enhance your creativity instead of stifle it
  • How a simple tool can help you stay focused so you can actually get writing done
  • How a simple mindset tool can shift your energy from No to Go
  • How goal setting can restart you when you’re stuck in the middle of your project
  • How you can connect with the most powerful tool in the five senses to spark or re-spark your passion for your project


Listen to the recording.

ABOUT BETH BARANY Beth-Barany_MG_6971_900x900Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist and a Creativity Coach for Writers. She runs the blog for writers by writers, the Writer’s Fun Zone, and the Barany School of Fiction. She’s coached hundreds of authors over the last nine years and specializes in helping novelists write, publish, and market their novels. Her mission is to empower authors to create sustainable and successful careers. You can find out more about Beth and her services at her site: There you can sign up for her free 5-Day Writer’s Motivation Mini-Course: Her latest book for writers is Twitter for Authors: Social Media Marketing for Shy Writers. In her off hours, Beth enjoys capoeira, reading, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, suspense novelist Ezra Barany. Beth Barany lives in Oakland, California with her husband, two cats, and over 2,000 books.

FREE Roundtable: How to Write a Killer Memoir When the Doubt Gremlins Won’t Stop Nagging


AppleMarkJuly 2, 2015

4 PDT  5 MDT  6 CDT  7 EDT

Sign up to get free audio download of this event.

We are so pleased at the National Association of Memoir Writers to welcome back Lynn Goodwin. She’s the owner of Writer Advice,, which will celebrate its 18th year in October, 2015. Lynn helps writers get out in the world through her frequent contests through Writer Advice. Sign up for her newsletter so you can find out more.

Date: July 2 at 4 PM PDT / 5 PM MDT / 6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT

Topic: How to Write a Killer Memoir When the Doubt Gremlins Won’t Stop Nagging

Guest: Lynn Goodwin

Listen to the recording.

From Lynn:
I got married for the first time at age 62 to a 2-time widower I met on … gulp … Craigslist. By the second date I was collecting material for a personal essay. By the second month I was imagining our story as a memoir. I wanted to write a sane, balanced and truthful story without lapsing into melodrama. Despite a background in writing, teaching writing, and editing, I found myself facing problems I’ve helped others solve.


How could I cope with

  • They-who-shall-not-be-named
  • Unflattering truths
  • Time constraints
  • The constant lure of social media

I’ll talk about all that and explain how writing helped me gain perspective on my relationship, weigh my choices, and open my heart as well as my mind.

You will learn or rediscover

  • How to find the heart of your story and dig into it
  • How to move through fears and doubts
  • How to keep your story active and dynamic
  • How to polish and perfect your storyHow and why reading other memoirs helps

B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, (Tate Publishing). Her stories and Lynn Goodwinarticles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Friction Literary Journal, Inspire Me Today, several newspapers additional online sites, and The Sun. She conducts workshops, coaches individuals, and writes reviews for Story Circle Network, www.storycircle, as well as Writer Advice. She’s recently been published in Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers, Small Miracles from Beyond: Dreams, Visions and Signs that Link Us to the Other Side, True Words and the Las Positas Anthology. Her young adult novel, Talent (Eternal Press) will be available soon.



Free Roundtable: Becoming Persistent in a Shifting Publishing Landscape

Jordan Author headshot

Jordan Author headshotTopic: Becoming Persistent in a Shifting Publishing Landscape
Date: June 4
Time: 4 PM PST / 5 PM MST / 6 PM CST / 7 PM EST
Guest: Jordan Rosenfeld

The writers who succeed in publishing are not simply the most talented; they are the most persistent. Jordan Rosenfeld, author of A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, will discuss the importance of building a “writer’s code”—a foundation of strategies and attitudes that build an unshakable writing practice, make you more persistent and resilient on your journey, and increase your chances of publication. Writers are easily swayed by promises of fame, critical voices, and lightning fast changes in the publishing industry. It’s easy to get discouraged and give in to distractions that pull you away from your work. This seminar will give you practical tools to make you persistent and successful on your path to publication.

You will learn to:

  • Identify the foundational root of your writing practice
  • Carve out distractions that keep you from writing
  • Build strong boundaries to preserve writing time
  • Identify appropriate markets and publishing avenues
  • Stretch your writing skills to stay relevant

Listen to the recording

Jordan is author of two novels and three writing guides, most recently A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, as well as Make a Scene, Write Free (with Rebecca Lawton), and the forthcoming Writing Deep Scenes (with Martha Alderson). Her work has been published widely in places such as: Alternet, Bustle, DAME magazine, the New York Times, The Rumpus, Salon, STIR Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Writer’s Digest magazine, The Writer and more. She and Martha Alderson, “The Plot Whisperer” lead annual writing retreats: and


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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