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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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