Upcoming Workshops and Classes

The Craft of Creating Believable Characters in Memoir

Jordan Rosenfeld 

February Member Teleseminar

February 17, 2017

11 AM PST    12 PM MST    1 PM CST   2 PM EST

We’re happy that Jordan Rosenfeld will be joining us again to talk about much needed craft issues for memoir writers—creating “characters” in our story, based on people we know. Most memoir writers don’t see that they are not building a character because that person lives in their memory—but the reader can’t see them unless you create and build the character chapter by chapter in your story.

How do you do this—by using character cues such as physical action, dialogue, sensory imagery, internal monologue and analogies. These are techniques that fiction writers use to make their characters believable—people who are not real, but made up, and yet who live in our imagination forever—think Jane Eyre, Mr. Darcey, and David Copperfield. In memoir, Helen MacDonald creates a full character of her hawk, and Cheryl Strayed brings to life herself and her mother, along with the “character” of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Join us for this important webinar by Jordan—she’s been with us before and always delivers powerful and important skills that we as memoir writers need to know.

You will learn:

  1. To understand how to use your point of view consistently to establish yourself as character—you are the protagonist in your own story.
  2. How to use strong character cues so they come alive on the page.
  3. That showing your characters in action is a dynamic way to bring them to life.
  4. How dialogue enriches your characters.

And more… We’ll talk about her book Writing the Intimate Character as a resource for you as you deepen your skills in creating character so they live vividly on the page!

 

Bio

Jordan is author of seven books, most recently: Writing the Intimate Character (Writer’s Digest Books). Her freelance work has appeared in The Atlantic, GOOD, New York Magazine, Scientific American and many more.

Jordanrosenfeld.net

 

 

 

Dancing with Darkness and Light

Moving with the Ebb and Flow of the Creative Process

Tina Games

January Member Teleseminar

January 20, 2017

11 AM PST    12 PM MST    1 PM CST   2 PM EST

 

As we begin to celebrate the New Year 2017, it’s important to draw from within the darkness of winter to find the themes of our memoir that will blossom as the year moves into the light of spring. I’m so pleased to have Tina Games, the Moonlight Muse and the author/creator of Journaling by the Moonlight: A Creative Path to New Beginnings lead us into journal writing exercises to strengthen our ability to trust the creative process and bring more clarity to writing our memoir. Her specialty is bringing an awareness of the larger planetary and energetic elements to writers and creative people. I hope you enjoy the presentation!

________________________________________

Our lunar goddess is rich with wisdom. She teaches us how to move from darkness into light with the gracefulness of a ballroom dance. We step in, we step out – and we circle back around again.

Looking up at the night sky during a first quarter lunar phase, we see a moon that’s half lit. It serves as a reminder that there’s always more than what meets the eye. It sparks a strong sense of curiosity within us.

When we ponder our creative process and the memoir that we’re writing, we can choose to look at this moon phase as half light – with lots of room for possibilities and expansion. Or we can look at it as half dark – with lots of space to hide, wondering about the safety of “coming out” and triggering our own vulnerability.

As we look at the brightness of this magnificent lunar object, we can feel a sense of wonderment. There is so much potential in territories not yet explored.

Of course, it’s only natural to wonder what craters or bumpy roads may lay ahead as the moon slowly reveals herself – and as we slowly reveal the many layers of our story.

The first quarter moon signals the balance between light and dark. It serves as a breakthrough point between our potential and our tendency to hold back (out of doubt or fear).

So how does this affect your creative process? How does it impact the writing of your memoir?

Grab your journal and pen – and prepare to be gently guided into:

  • A clearing exercise that allows you to identify what needs to be released or shifted as you create the space to write with more awareness and clarity.
  • An exploration of what could be possible when you give yourself permission to create from the fullest expression of you.
  • A closer look at the obstacles that keep you from stepping into your full potential as a writer.
  • An understanding of the ebb and flow of emotions that can get activated during the creative process.
  • An awareness of how curiosity serves as a way of moving out of creative darkness and into the light of possibility.

Join Linda as she chats with Tina Games, “The Moonlight Muse” – exploring ways that you can navigate the ebb and flow of the creative process using the moon as a metaphor.

 

******************************************************

Tina M. Games is the author of Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother’s Path to Self-
Discovery
(an interactive book with an accompanying deck of 54 journaling prompt cards). As a certified creativity and life purpose coach, and a gifted intuitive and certified retreat leader, she is the “Moonlight Muse” for women who want to tap into the “full moon within” and claim their authentic self, both personally and professionally. Through her signature coaching programs, based on the phases of the moon, Tina gently guides women from darkness into light as they create an authentic vision filled with purpose, passion, and creative expression. For more information about her work please visit: www.TheMoonlightMuse.com where you can pick up her complimentary Creating a New Moon Vision Board kit.

 

 

 

Unlocking the Power of Humor in Your Memoir

Susan Sparks

December Member Teleseminar

December 16, 2016

11 AM PST    12 PM MST    1 PM CST   2 PM EST

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

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.

________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Listen to the recording below:

5 Tips to Help You Write a Gripping Memoir

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

Testimonials

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

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. 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

Kathy Pooler