Upcoming Workshops and Classes

The Role of Memory in Writing Memoirs | Mary Gottschalk

Member Teleseminar December 13, 2013

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

Mary Gottschalk

We are pleased to present Mary Gottschalk, author of Sailing Down the Moonbeam. Memoirs are, by their nature, selective in the ideas and information they offer to the reader. But as she wrote her memoir, Mary discovered how important it is to understand the limitations of one’s own memory.  She will talk about the different kinds of memory, how we remember things, and why we remember them.  We will talk about truth and reliability in memoir, how we use memory in memoir and why we need to let memories “steep.”

You will learn more about:

  • The different types of memory
  • The gap between truth and memory
  • The value of letting memories steep
  • Approaches to using memory in writing a memoir
  • Understanding how writing itself shapes memory


Mary has made a career out of changing careers. After finishing her MBA, she spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, working as an economist, a banker and a financial consultant to major corporations.  She has worked in New York, New Zealand, Australia, Central America, Europe, and amazingly, Des Moines, Iowa.  Twice, she left finance to provide financial and strategic planning services to the nonprofit community, first in New York and later in Des Moines.

She also 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. In Mary’s view, sailing is a metaphor for life: you can’t control your environment … nothing ever works out according to plan … you often end up someplace different than you set out to go.

In her latest incarnation, she defines herself as a writer.  She is working on her first novel, does freelance writing, and lectures on a variety of subjects related to her memoir.

Roundtable Discussion: Immersion Writing—A Field Guide and Discussion | Robin Hemley


December 5, 2013


I’m so pleased to have Robin Hemley back with us again for our Roundtable Discussion! I admire Robin’s work, and have read several of his books. In fact they are dog-eared and underlined, and I refer to them often. Turning Your Life Into Fiction is friendly readable compilation of stories, tips, and guidance for the memoir writer and for the writer who wants to adapt personal stories into fiction. His memoir Nola is poetic, inspiring, and tragic, an example of how a memoirist can create a unique, emotionally honest, and relatable memoir. You must read it.

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing is his most recent book, and during our discussion, we are going to journey with him into the world of memoir, journalism, and travel as we examine the different angles we can use to tease out our stories. Immersion writing is a way to be in the world as a participant-observer, and delight in the experience and flow of a place, people, and culture while keeping an eye toward what will make a good story. We are the writer and the observer all at once.

We will discuss several kinds of immersion writing:

  • Immersion journalism
  • Immersion memoir
  • Travel writing

These can be looked at through the lens of

  • Quest
  • Experiment
  • Investigation
  • Reenactment
  • Infiltration

Please join us for an interesting and exciting tour of a kind of nonfiction writing that may be new to you. Thinking about writing stories through the lens of immersion memoir can open you to new ways to view the world and write about it.

Robin Hemley directs the Writing Program at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and is the author of eleven books of nonfiction and fiction and the winner of many awards including a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, The Nelson Algren Award for Fiction from The Chicago Tribune, The Story Magazine Humor Prize, as well as three Pushcart Prizes in both fiction and nonfiction.  His popular craft book, Turning Life into Fiction, has sold over 80,000 copies and is now in its fourth printing with Graywolf Press. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and elsewhere and he frequently teaches creative writing workshops around the world. 

His memoir, NOLA: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness was reissued by The University of Iowa Press in 2013.  He is the founder and organizer of NonfictioNow a biennial conference that will convene next at Northern Arizona University in October of 2015. 


December Roundtable with Robin Hemley

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Five Secrets to Writing an Enduring Memoir – Member Teleseminar | Theo Pauline Nestor

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Join us for this NAMW Member Teleseminar November 22, 2013

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


Writing a memoir is a complex task that asks us to weave truth, story, craft, and our own vulnerability as writers. And not only that, we have to learn how to reach out to the reader, we need to create a narrator that is relatable and real so the reader can identify with the us as narrators, and learns a universal message from our memoir. When all this is done with the right balance, we create a story that is personal, true, and marketable.

 In this teleseminar, memoirist and award-winning instructor, Theo Pauline Nestor will walk you through five essential secrets of writing a marketable memoir.

  • Finding and defining your true material
  • Making yourself vulnerable on the page
  • Underscoring the drama of your story
  • Sharing wisdom
  • Illuminating the universal story in your individual experience.

Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of Writing Is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (And a Guide to How You Can Too) (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over (Crown, 2008), which was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a 2008 Top Pick for Reading Groups and as a Target “Breakout Book.” An award-winning instructor, Nestor has taught the memoir certificate course for the University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education program since 2006. Nestor also produces events for writers such as the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat and the Black Mesa Writers’ Intensive, featuring talks by literary leaders such as Cheryl Strayed, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg.


Writing Your Spiritual/Healing Memoir

 Angel in Lourmarin

4 weeks: October 31–November 21, 2013

Thursdays   3 PM PDT    4 PM MDT    5 PM CDT    6 PM EDT

One hour teleseminar

$125.00 for Members / $135 for Non-Members

Linda Joy Myers, Workshop Leader


When we write a memoir, we engage with our deepest selves and embark on a journey that challenges us. In this brief workshop you can explore the topics you want to develop in a longer workshop.

We invite you to write new material, and we’ll talk about the tools of storytelling–characters, structure, and narrative arc.

Write Your Spiritual/Healing Memoir invites your raw, new, risky writing  to explore your desires, losses, triumphs. Writing a memoir celebrates your life’s path and the people you have known and loved, the significant moments that have shaped you, and the moments of aha or despair that mark your challenges.

How it Works

Each week you write your story and email it to the class members–classes are small, from 4-5 people. Feedback is supportive and confidential, to help you see what works best in your story and what you need to work on. Class members offer feedback through email, and we all discuss more details about the writing and the craft lessons on the phone each week, as in a “live” classroom discussion.

 Some topics that have been explored in the course. The structure is open for your own ideas and exploration–specific turning point moments in your life, moments of meaning that shaped you into you who are now.

  • What topics and moments do you want to explore in your spiritual memoir?
  • You can write about family–roots and legacies
  • Explore dark nights of the soul and the light that can come in as healing and insights
  • Forgiveness and compassion–challenging subjects to explore in your writing
  • Where has your sacred journey lead you during your life?


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Linda Joy Myers is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of four books: Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, and a workbook The Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing. Her book Becoming Whole—Writing Your Healing Story was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award.

Linda has taught the Spiritual Memoir course at the Therapeutic Writing Institute for several years.

A speaker and award winning author, she co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing, coaching, and mentoring for memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. www.namw.org.  Blog: http://memoriesandmemoirs.com






Members: $125  

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Non-Members: $135

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Can the Truth be Handled? A Conversation in Search of an Answer | Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart


Member Teleseminar September 20, 2013

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

As the award-winning author of five memoirs and a teacher of memoir at the University of Pennsylvania, Beth Kephart has thought long and hard about the form—what it is, what it isn’t, and why it still matters. In her newly published HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR, Kephart reflects on the vulnerability we must bring to our work, the care we must take regarding the lives of others, and the magnifying power of empathy and imagination.

She writes, “Memoir making, the myth goes, is tenderness reserved for the book, intelligence transferred to the page, generosity given over to scene. But it is also, obviously, grand larceny, a form of plagiarism, a brand of stalking, and those who teach memoir have, I think, a moral responsibility to steady the student with terms, to caution her with consequences, to insist that he do it again, better..”

In this one-hour conversation, Linda Joy Myers and Beth Kephart, both memoirists and memoir teachers, will explore the delicate niches of a genre that, well done, both preserves and yields.

 Among the topics:

  • What is memoir absolutely not?
  • What is memoir at its best?
  • How does reading memoir help hone a writer’s expectations—and build her capabilities?
  • Why does love matter, when writing memoir?
  • What difference does it make if memoirs freeze people in time?
  • Is there, in the end, a systematic way to think about crafting a life story?


Beth Kephart teaches memoir at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of sixteen books, including five memoirs. HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR (Gotham) has received starred reviews and was recently featured as a top five writing book in O Magazine. Kephart’s essays on memoir have appeared or will soon appear in Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Marion Roach Blog, Creative Nonfiction, Philadelphia Inquirer, Brevity Magazine, Pennsylvania Gazette, Speakeasy, and The Millions. She blogs daily at www.beth-kephart.blogspot.com



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