Public Memoir Roundtables

So, What? The Reflective Voice in Memoir & Why It Matters | Public Roundtable

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mb desk croppedDecember 4, 2014

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

Guest: Marilyn Bousquin

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Writing a memoir of substance requires more than a one-dimensional recounting of events. As Vivian Gornick puts it, “What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.” No matter how interesting a story, without a deeper, underlying meaning our readers are left asking, “So, what?” The memoirist’s job is to cull meaning from experience. This is where the reflective voice comes in. The reflective narrator not only speaks the truth but also interprets experience and arrives at insight; indeed, the author’s insight becomes an integral part of the story and imbues it with universal appeal.

In this roundtable discussion we will:

  • Identify the reflective voice and how it distinguishes memoir as a genre
  • Explore the differences between the reflective voice and the narrative voice in memoir and the necessity of both
  • Understand the relationship between the reflective voice and the emotional arc of a memoir and how the reflective voice drives a memoir story
  • Realize the power of reflection to lead to discovery both on the page and off the page and how reflection can help you gain the emotional distance necessary to shape your material
  • Learn reading and writing practices that will help you to cultivate the reflective voice in your own writing

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Bio

Marilyn Bousquin, founder of Writing Women’s Lives™ (www.writingwomenslives.com), specializes in teaching both the craft of writing memoir and the consciousness work that leads to recovering one’s voice and claiming one’s truth both on the page and off the page. A certified Amherst Writers and Artists group writing coach, Marilyn holds an MFA in creative nonfiction. Her work appears in River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, in Kate Hopper’s Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, and is forthcoming in Under the Gum Tree. You can read her book reviews in Literary Mama and River Teeth. Her essay “Against Memory” was named a finalist for AROHO’s Orlando Prize for Creative Nonfiction 2013. In addition to teaching classes and mentoring women writers at Writing Women’s Lives™, Marilyn teaches writing at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She is currently at work on a memoir titled Searching for Salt.

How To Capture Emotion in Your Memoir | Public Roundtable

Angela Ackerman

November 6, 2014

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

Guest: Angela AckermanAngela Ackerman

How To Capture Emotion in Your Memoir

To write a memoir, we need to find a way to translate the “real people” in our lives from our memory onto the page—to create “characters” that convey the reality of being alive and motion and having emotions. The reader needs someone to identify with—you are the protagonist in memoir–

Conveying emotion effectively is difficult for many writers, but is critical for generating empathy that pulls readers into the story. This hour presentation will look at the power of deep point of view, and how writers can use dialogue, body language, thoughts and visceral sensations to show emotion.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • A better understanding of deep Point of View
  • An overview of the best ways to show character emotions
  • How to avoid emotion trouble spots such as melodrama and telling
  • Further tools and resources on emotion

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Angela Ackerman is a writing coach and co-author of three bestselling resources, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws. Her books are sourced by US universities and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors and psychologists around the world. Angela can also be found at Writers Helping Writers, a site which specializes in building innovative tools for writers that cannot be found elsewhere.

THE BIG DECISION: MEMOIR OR FICTION?

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Date: October 16, 2014
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

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Mary Gottschalk Bio

Mary has made a career out of changing careers. She spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, working with Fortune 500 corporations in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Central America, and Europe. She dropped out in the mid-1980’s to embark on the multi-year sailing voyage that is the subject of her memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam. The key message of her memoir is that you grow the most when you step outside of your comfort zone.

Continuing to work with that theme, Mary published her first novel, A Fitting Place, in May, 2014. She blogs regularly on the experience of being outside your comfort zone. She is also a freelance writer and professional editor.

 

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Carol Bodensteiner Bio

Carol finds inspiration in the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest. After a successful career in public relations consulting, she turned to creative writing. Carol’s childhood on a family farm in the middle of the United States in the middle of the 20th century provided grist for her memoir, Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl. Having stepped 50 years back in history with her memoir, writing her debut novel Go Away Home set in Iowa during WWI was a logical next step. Carol blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment. Her essays have been included in a number of anthologies.

Develop the Mystery in Your Memoir | Free Roundtable Discussion

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Mani Feniger
September 11, 2014

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

maniMani Feniger thought her relationship with her mother was over when she buried her mother’s ashes. But two years later, the discovery of a startling photograph of her mother taken just months before rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, sent Mani on a twenty-year search across continents and lifetimes, uncovering clues about her family’s past that eventually revealed the life of a woman very different from the mother she thought she knew.

Mani’s award-winning memoir, The Woman in the Photograph, reads like a mystery. She didn’t know what she would find when she started, and she had to take into account every shred of evidence to weave together the surprising story that lurked in the silences and unfinished sentences of her relationship with her mother.

Even if you already have the basic facts of the story you want to write, being open to the unknown–the unexpected clues and conversations, the realizations that emerge as you write–will bring suspense and anticipation to your memoir.

In our September 11 Roundtable, we will talk about developing the mystery of your memoir, and explore the steps you can take to open up the narrative and pique your readers’ curiosity.

1. How to uncover the hidden layers of your story

2. Interview techniques for eager and less eager subjects

3. Using intuitive writing exercises to create authentic, complex characters

4. Building suspense with rhythm, pacing and knowing when to hold back

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About the Author: Mani Feniger is a therapist, speaker, documentary film consultant and author of Journey from Anxiety to Freedom and The Woman in the Photograph–voted Best Memoir 2013 by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. Last year the city of Leipzig, Germany invited Mani to speak about her book in her mother’s birthplace.

Authenticity in Memoir Writing | Free Roundtable Discussion

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Karen LevyKaren Levy
August 7, 2014

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

 

Karen Levy found that she had to push herself past the inner critic and other voices that stopped her from writing her memoir My Father’s Gardens. She took emotional risks with the story she had to tell about her need to find a voice that would give her strength and a place in which she belongs after a lifetime of belonging everywhere and nowhere. Writing allowed her to give voice to thoughts and fears she had kept to herself as a result of her introverted personality as well as a dominant mother figure.

Most memoir writers find that taking risks as opposed to playing it safe creates a realistic authentic story. As a memoirist you have to let down your guard, and reveal yourself, and on this journey you find that you are discovering more about yourself as the story progresses. You need to let go of what you think people will think about you and the judgments they may have about your “truth.” You have to tell your own story.

In this Roundtable discussion about the process of being authentic in writing a memoir, Karen Levy and Linda Joy Myers are going to discuss:

• What inspired her to write her book
• What got in the way of writing her truths and how she solved those problems
• Why she chose to write in vignettes rather than a sustained narrative
• How she chose the storyteller’s POV and style of the book
• How Karen managed to set aside the judgments she could imagine people making to write and publish her book
• The reception her book has been getting and why it appeals to people

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About the Author: Karen Levy is an Israeli-American writer. Born in Israel, Levy spent most of her childhood traveling between her native land and the United States. Levy has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the U. C Davis, and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from Sacramento State University where she teaches composition and interpretation of literature. Her work has appeared in Welter Magazine, So to Speak, the Blue Moon, The Meadow, the Yolo Crow, and Shifting Balance Sheets – an anthology of women’s stories of naturalized citizenship & cultural attachment by Wising Up Press. My Father’s Gardens is nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Davis, California with her husband and two children.

 

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professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal