Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Unlocking the Power of Humor in Your Memoir

susan-sparks

Susan Sparks

December Member Teleseminar

December 16, 2016

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

We’re so happy, literally, to have Susan Sparks as our guest for the end of the year member teleseminar. What better way to celebrate the holiday season than to have a writer, trial lawyer, standup comedian and Baptist minister—and my friend–Susan Sparks whip up an entertaining and instructional discussion. She is going to be funny and also offer us an angle through which to view our work as creative artists: humor. Many of you are writing serious stories, but still, a story can be told so many different ways.

I’m jazzed to be talking with Susan for our December teleseminar! I hope you can join us live on the phone, and if not, members will all receive the audio as our Christmas present. No, actually, you always get the audio after each of our teleseminars.

Have a great holiday season, everyone.

 

From Susan: 

susan-sparks

Humor is, perhaps, the most undervalued tool we have—especially as artists. Laughter brings perspective, forgiveness, empathy and power to us as writers and depth, craft, intimacy, and honesty to our work. This is not about being a comedian. This is about discovering the gift of joy and hope in our own voice. Let’s find it together and take our work to new levels!

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Discover the deeper power of humor and it how builds intimacy and honesty with your reader/listener
  • Learn specific tools used in standup comedy that can improve your writing
  • Identify places to find material
  • Understand the times humor doesn’t work
  • Learn how to use humor to deal with the hecklers, such as rejection letters and the voices in our head
  • Discover how to use humor to address difficult topics, conflict, and crisis

 

BIO:

susan-sparks-laugh-your-way-to-graceA trial lawyer, turned standup comedian and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is America’s only female comedian with a pulpit. After ten years as a lawyer moonlighting as a standup, Susan left the practice and spent two years on a solo trip around the world, including working for Mother Teresa’s mission in Calcutta and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Upon returning home, she earned a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, writing an honors thesis on humor and religion entitled “Laughing Your Way to Grace.”

Currently, the Senior Pastor of the historic Madison AvenueBaptist Church in New York City (and the first woman in its 165-year history), Susan is also a professional comedian. She tours national with a Rabbi and a Muslim comic in the Laugh in Peace Tour. Susan’s work with humor and healing has been featured in such media outlets as the Oprah Magazine, the New York Times, CBS, CNN, and ABC. A blogger for Huffington Post and Psychology Today, her book Laugh Your Way to Grace, was named a best spiritual book and featured in USA Today and Good Morning America.

 

 

Dipping the Madeleine: How to Find Hidden Memories as You Write Your Memoir

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Barbara Donsky

November Roundtable

November 18, 2016

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

We are pleased this month to explore the issue of memory itself, with some inspiration by Marcel Proust and our guest, Barbara Donsky, author of Veronica’s Grave. Her introduction to our November roundtable follows. Remember, it’s National Lifewriting Month, so celebrate by working on your memoir and inviting your memories to play.

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And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray … when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane …. and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and garden alike, from my cup of tea.

                                                                  —Marcel Proust

After dipping a madeleine in a cup of verbena-infused tea, Proust’s boyhood memories played out before his very eyes. After a few more sips and a few more dips, he transformed his entire life — all that he knew about history, cultural mores, social privilege, art, science, and human nature—into what is arguably the greatest novel of the 20th century. If not a memoir, it’s an autobiographical treatise in the guise of a novel. Dipping the madeleine proved an antidote to the much-dreaded writer’s block.

What Proust stumbled upon was a way to feed the artist within.  And what about you? Have you tried ‘dipping the madeleine,’ found ways to nourish your artist-soul? As memoirists, we are called upon to revisit our earlier selves. To do so, we need something that will trigger the involuntary memories, many of which have lain dormant for years.

When involuntary memories arise, we see the past as if it were the present, according to Proust. And that’s very much how it felt, when I visited the apartment building on Ryer Avenue in the South Bronx where we had lived until my mother died. It was then I could see in mind’s eye the black-and-white octagonal tiles that had been in the bathroom. Feel the silkiness of the tufts on my mother’s chenille bedspread. Hear the music of the Big Bands coming from the radio. Things that I had not thought about in years.  All of which came together to form the opening segment of Veronica’s Grave.

Neuroscientists tell us that our memories are not lost, but contained within the cells of our body. That said, in order for an involuntary memory to surface—to move out of the hippocampus into the realm of consciousness—requires a trigger.

Fortunately, ‘triggers’ can be found everywhere if we are open to them. A trigger could be something as ordinary as a conversation overheard on a street corner. Or the feel of a starchy linen napkin (as was the case for Proust).  For authors juggling the hurried demands of everyday life, it often feels as if there’s little time to collect one’s thoughts, no less to listen to them.

When doing readings and book signings for my book Veronica’s Grave, one of the questions that has come up regularly has to do with my writing schedule and how I managed to find the voice of a young girl.

I will discuss:

  • Strategies for opening the gates to the sub-conscious, and letting involuntary memories rise into consciousness.
  • Rise and Shine!
  • Recharge the synapses
  • Start the Day with Self-Affirmations
  • Write the Morning Pages
  • The Virtues of Longhand
  • Trust the Voice in Your Head

 

Bio

e_037972_150519Barbara Donsky is a native New Yorker born in the South Bronx, a neighborhood that by the ‘70s and ‘80s had become synonymous with urban dysfunction.

Author of the newly-released Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir, she graduated Hunter College magna cum laude; was elected to three honorary societies—Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi and Sigma Tau Delta; and earned a doctoral degree from Hofstra University. Publications include a dissertation Trends in Written Composition in Elementary Schools in the United States, 1890 -1960. Articles in educational journals including “Writing as Praxis” and “Trends in Elementary Writing Instruction”. And a short story— “The Trouble with Harry”—published in the Naples Review in Florida.

A reading specialist with a private practice for school-age children and an adjunct professor at C.W. Post College on Long Island, Barbara served for many years as a trustee, board president, and capital campaign coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club of Oyster Bay-East Norwich.

For work done on behalf of the Club, Barbara was named ‘Woman of the Year’ by the Boys and Girls Club and honored by the Township of Oyster Bay for her ‘public-spirited contributions advancing the general welfare of the community.’

Living in Manhattan with her husband, she blogs at https://www.Barbaradonsky.com

5 Tips to Help You Write a Gripping Memoir

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pamela-janePamela Jane

October Member Teleseminar

October 21, 2016

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

As memoir writers, we know that not only do we have to find the threads of memory and truth, we also must master classic principles of story structure in order to capture and hold the reader’s attention.  It’s a challenge to dig into our memory banks–we run into some surprises that we then have to process. And yet, learning story principles can help us with the healing and writing process in ways that may surprise you.

Pamela Jane’s presentation is designed to help you successfully integrate story principles into a powerful memoir to draw your readers into your story and keep them turning the pages.

What you will learn from the discussion:

  1. How to dig deep to find the bones (structure) of your story
  2. Ways to allow the theme to emerge (Clue:  The big mess you’re trying to get through so you can write you story is the story.)
  3. Techniques to write your way through painful memories
  4. Tips to identify conflict in your story–and what to do about it
  5. Finding your voice (Clue:  put on your mental pajamas!)

 

Biography

pamela-jane-bookPamela Jane is an essayist, writing coach, and author of over thirty books, from board books to memoir.  Story Circle Review called her new memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Odyssey,  “A fine, five-star read.”  You can read an excerpt in The Writer and more reviews here.  She is also the author of Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic, which was featured in the NY Times The Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, among other places.  She is an essayist, a columnist for womensmemoirs.com, and blogger for The Huffington Post.

Websites

www.pamelajane.com

www.memoircoaching.com

Memoir Book Trailer

Twitter: @austencats

 

Recent Essays

JUST WAIT!  A Short Story Rejected in Grade School Becomes a Cause of Action

 

 

 

 

 

Pamela Jane

Pamela Jane’s Children’s Books

New Memoir: An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story

Memoir Book Trailer

My New Huff Po Blog:

7 Things that Make Me Really Mad Beginning with the Bass Clef

Funniest Rejections of All Time (Huff Po)

Memoir Excerpt in The Writer

JUST WAIT!  A Short Story Rejected in Grade School Becomes a Cause of Action

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties

@austencats

Fall 2015 Telesummit | Truth and Transformation in Memoir

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Telesummit stars photo-2015

Fall 2015 Telesummit

Truth and Transformation in Memoir

Friday November 6, 2015
10 am-3 pm

 

Welcome to the Fall Telesummit for the National Association of Memoir Writers!  We have a TON of great information for you writers and explorers of truth in memoir. Even if you can’t attend every session, when you sign up you get the bonuses and the free audio of the whole day! Hope to see you on the call!

–Linda Joy Myers, president of NAMW

Linda Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Bird Pricing (good until November 2) – $29
Regular Pricing (after November 2) – $49
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Memoir writers need to be jugglers. Not only are we trying to find out what our story is about, we’re trying to learn how to write our memoir so others can understand our experiences, so there is a takeaway for the reader. But first we must honor ourselves, dig deep into our hearts, minds, and memories for the stories that are our truths. This work is deeply healing, and offers hope to others when our book is published.

On this journey we search for inspiration and the tools we need to create our memoir. We need to learn about craft, the techniques of storytelling. And we have to manage our own inner voices: do I REALLY have a story to tell that others will find interesting? How can I tell that story when others may not want me to?

The heart of memoir writing is permission, passion, and time. Until you write “The End” and send your last draft off to the publisher, you need to be engaged in learning and finding the permission to encounter your story in your head and dreams over and over again and write it down. It’s a long journey, but it will feed your soul, it will change you—for the better. The inner wisdom you want to share in your story is what drives you on your search for truth.

During this day-long Telesummit, a conference by phone with our terrific presenters, we’ll talk about encountering your story through various perspectives. First, Susan Reynolds will share her research on how to get your brain to inspire you and help you write your story. Louise DeSalvo will help us look at how to discover what’s missing in our story, how to listen to what the story is wanting from us.
Learning craft is essential—it’s part of our own personal transformation as we write. Jordan Rosenfeld and Martha Alderson are going to talk about their tools for how to write deep through learning plot and scenes. Melissa Cistaro will share with us her writing and publishing journey. And a literary agent, Andy Ross, will talk about memoir from an agent’s perspective, and offer us some tips on how to touch an agent’s heart.

 

Early Bird Pricing (good until October 31) – $29
Regular Pricing (after October 31) – $49
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Fire Up Your Writing Brain
Hot Tips for Maximizing Your Writing Genius

Susan Reynolds

10 am PST  11 am MST  12 pm CST 1 pm EST

Science writer and author of Fire Up Your Writing Brain: How to Use Proven Neuroscience to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Writer, Susan Reynolds will tell you what you need to know to maximize your brainpower while prepping to write and writing. Offering insights into neuroscience and specific, practical tips a memoirist needs, Susan will walk you through the latest research, elucidating the interplay of storytelling and neuroscience, and how these breakthroughs can help you craft more fully developed memoirs that sell. The focus will be on new, easy-to-understand information with practical applications, designed to help your brain spark creativity and craft your best work. Specific topics include:

• 5 Things you need to know about your brain and writing
• 5 ways to crystalize your intelligence around writing
• If you’re a top or bottom brain writer—and why it matters
• How to boost creativity by mining metaphors and language
• Clever ways to tap into your memory reserves and maximize emotional impact

Join us for this fascinating, groundbreaking seminar and come away with practical ways to boost your brainpower and maximize your writing genius.
Susan Reynolds has authored or edited 45+ nonfiction and fiction books. Recently, she co-authored Train Your Brain to Get Happy, Train Your Brain to Get Rich, and Meditation for Moms. She was the creator and editor of the My Hero anthology series (Teacher, Mom, Dad, Dog), and Woodstock Revisited, 50 far out, groovy, peace-inducing, flashback-inducing stories from those who were there. Ms. Reynolds also edits GRAND Magazine (an online magazine), blogs on Psychologytoday.com, and judges annual writing contests for Writer’s Digest. She is currently writing a novel based on a year she spent living in Paris.

Susan’s Amazon Author Page.
http://www.literarycottage.com
http://www.fireupyourwritingbrain.com

 

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How to Get at What’s Not There
Louise DeSalvo

11 am PST  12 pm MST  1 pm CST  2 pm EST

Writing a memoir is a long journey—you know that, but what are the marking points on that journey? One of them is beginning your stories, setting some words down as your memories whisper in your ear. As your stories evolve, you’re searching for the threads of truth that you want to write about, and you are searching for your voice—an ineffable quality that is hard to define. In writing memoir, it takes a long time to figure out what the story is really about and how to tell it. The key to finding out what your story is trying to become is right on the page if we know how to look for it. Figuring out what’s not yet there and determining how to put that on the page is guaranteed to transform your work.

As a result of our conversation, we will:

• Talk about how Louise has crafted her memoirs, and how she has lost and found the threads of her story
• Learn how to identify the “hole” in our narratives
• Discover how reflecting upon what’s not yet there will deepen your work
• Discuss techniques to incorporate our new found insights into your work
• How challenges in writing your memoir can strengthen your ability to keep going and finish your book

Louise DeSalvo is the Jenny Hunter Endowed Scholar for Literature and Creative Writing at Hunter College where she teaches memoir to undergraduates. She has published five memoirs, among them, the award-winning Vertigo and two
books about the writing process, Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives and, most recently, The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity. She has been studying and writing
about the writing process of famous writers for forty years. Her new book Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War was released Oct. 1.
Website:  www.writingalife.wordpress.com

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Digging Deep into Plot and Scene to Write a Great Memoir
Jordan Rosenfeld and Martha Alderson

12 pm PST  1 pm MST  2 pm CST  3 pm EST

To write a successful and powerful memoir, you need to build your craft skills. Some writers don’t know that learning craft helps to create a more powerful voice and helps you the writer to reveal your story in a deeper way. This presentation by two talented and powerful authors and teachers, Jordan Rosenfeld and Martha Alderson, you will dig deeper into your story and expand your skills. Remember, finding your truth happens through the process of writing. The better you can write your scenes and develop your plot, the more truth you can tell that will transform your life and resonate with your readers.

Based on the work of Martha and Jordan’s new book, Writing Deep Scenes, you’ll learn
• Powerful scene construction
• What the different scene types are—for example epiphany, contemplative, suspense
• How to find a plot for your memoir that resonates with readers and keeps them reading
• And how to think about creating scenes and plot for a true story

Martha Alderson is the bestselling author of The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master where she first introduced the Universal Story to transform writers’ creative lives and teach them about plot. The Plot Whisperer Work book: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories and The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing quickly followed. Her most recent book is Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion & Theme with Jordan Rosenfeld. Writing Blockbuster Plots: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Plot, Structure & Scene is due out 3/16. Secrets of Personal Transformation: A Spiritual Guide comes next.
Martha is currently filming 2 new video programs: The 27-Step Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? and A Spiritual Guide for Writers: Secrets of Personal Transformation. She and Jordan co-lead writing and renewal retreats: www.writerpath.com. Visit her website: http://marthaalderson.com

Jordan is author of four writing guides, most recently Writing Deep Scenes and A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, and three novels, most recently Women in Red. Her essays & articles have appeared in the New York Times, Ozy, The Rumpus, Salon.com, the Washington Post and many more.

Melissa Cistaro-photo

Melissa Cistaro

On Memoir: Putting the Pieces Together

1 pm PST  2 pm MST  3 pm CST  4 pm EST

We all know it takes a long time to write a memoir, and for some, it takes more than a decade to come to terms with what happened in “real life” and how to find the arc of the story. Melissa Cistaro, author of Pieces of My Mother, will talk about what sustained her through the twelve years of working on her memoir — and the publishing experience that made it all worth it.

The discussion will include:

• Sticking with the story you need to tell.
• Finding the arc of forgiveness.
• The power of compassion in memoir.
• The single sentence that kept me writing through the years.
• Why I started my memoir as fiction.
• Struggling with structure.
• How motherhood made me a writer.
• Don’t fall in love with your title . . . Stories from the publishing world.
• The tale of finding that one sparkling “yes” from a publisher.
• What I’ve learned from working in a bookstore.
Bio

Melissa Cistaro is the author of the recent memoir PIECES OF MY MOTHER. Her essays, interviews, and work have appeared in The New Ohio Review, Brevity, The Huffington Post, Bookish, Good Housekeeping and the anthologies Love & Profanity and Cherished. She works as a bookseller and event coordinator at Book Passage, the esteemed independent bookstore in Northern California. Melissa graduated with honors from UCLA and followed her literary pursuits through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and the Tin House Writer’s Workshop in Portland. Between the years of raising her children, writing, bookselling, teaching horseback riding, and curating a business in equestrian antiques, Melissa completed her first memoir.

 

Andy Ross PHOTO
An Agent’s Perspective on Writing Memoir
Andy Ross

2 pm PST  3 pm MST  4 pm CST  5 pm EST

As all of you know, an agent comes into the picture of writing your memoir at the later stage of your journey. The agent’s job is to find books that publishers will buy, but there is so much more that an agent does. Most agents get involved with the writing and creative process, and Andy Ross is one of them. Andy will talk to us about what he is looking for, how he knows he has a gripping story, and other secrets of an agent’s discerning choice.

You will learn:
• What agents look for in a manuscript submission
• How to put on your professional hat when talking to agents
• Secrets of a good pitch
• What makes a great story
• The techniques that most memoir writers need to develop

Andy Ross is a literary agent in Oakland. Prior to becoming an agent he was the owner of the legendary Cody’s Books in Berkeley for 30 years. Andy represents books in a wide range of non-fiction genres including: memoir, narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, popular culture, memoir, and current events . He also represents literary, commercial, historical, crime, upmarket women’s fiction, and YA fiction. Authors Andy represents include: Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Anjanette Delgado, Elisa Kleven, Tawni Waters, Randall Platt, Mary Jo McConahay, Gerald Nachman, Michael Parenti, Paul Krassner, Milton Viorst, and Michele Anna Jordan.
You can read more about Andy at his website at www.andyrossagency.com and on his popular blog “Ask the Agent” at www.andyrossagency.wordpress.com

Join now to get special bonuses:

Finding an Agent, Query Letters, and Book Proposals by Andy Ross, literary agent A 40 page book written in Andy’s entertaining style, full of information.

Special Scene Checklist by Jordan Rosenfeld–from her conference handouts

How Wild Became a Bestseller–Audio and PDF from a class taught by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers

 

Early Bird Pricing (good until October 31) – $29
Regular Pricing (after October 31) – $49
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Writing a Hybrid Book—Tips on Combining Self Help and Memoir

Mary R. Thompson

Mary R. Thompson

Member Teleseminar September 25,2015

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

Log in to see call details.

Many memoir writers are interesting in teaching something they know well–a skill, a philosophy of life, tools for recovery–and want to combine their own story with how-to tips and education for the reader.  In the publishing industry now, there is some flexibility for the hybrid book. I’m pleased that our presenter for September Mary Reynolds Thompson is going to help us understand the principles of writing a hybrid book and share her experience with us.

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Blending memoir with advice is not new. Authors as diverse as Henry David Thoreau and Helen Gurley Brown have already done it, brilliantly. But today, the self-help/memoir hybrid is thriving as never before. Why? Because these books satisfy our hunger for both self-improvement and first person narrative. So how does telling your story in a self-help book differ from writing pure memoir? Do different sets of rules apply? And if so, what are they? In this experiential workshop we’ll explore:

* The different missions of self-help versus memoir
* How to build trust and credibility through story
* Why stories are so much better than lectures
* The emphasis on parables versus paragraphs
* The three essentials of telling your story in a self-help book

Mary Reynolds Thompson, author, certified life coach, and facilitator of poetry and journal therapy, is founder of “Write the Damn Book” and the creator of the Write the Damn Book coaching process that guides writers on the heroic path from procrastination to publication. Core faculty for the Therapeutic Writing Institute and a growing voice in the eco-spirituality movement, Mary is author of Embrace Your Inner Wild: 52 Reflections for an Eco-Centric World (White Cloud Press, 2011), and Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness (White Cloud Press, 2014). She can be reached through her websites: www.writethedamnbook.com and www.maryreynoldsthompson.com

Testimonials

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

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