Updates

What Made Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire a Best-selling Memoir?

Brain on Fire

Brain on FireJoin us for our new best-seller short course:

How to Write a Memoir That Changes Lives

Class dates: Sept 19, Sept 26, Oct 3, Oct 10
Mondays at 4pm PT | 5pm MT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET

All classes are one hour and we record all sessions so that you can watch the recordings if you have to miss a class.

Brain on Fire (soon to be a major motion picture) set us on fire! This fast-paced memoir has a lot to teach memoirists about how to write what you don’t remember; the value of advocating for others through your writing; and the power memoir holds to truly change lives.

Cahalan brilliantly captures her month of madness, despite the fact that she recalls almost nothing of what happened during that time. She uses effective techniques, like dropping into the point of view of others, incorporating records and journals, and excerpting bits from video sessions. In pushing the boundaries of memoir through the use of multiple “I” narrative voices,  Brain on Fire is a valuable teaching tool to aspiring memoirists who want to better grasp the power of transformation—and how to bring your reader all the way into the story as you face your own struggles and setbacks, and areas of growth and transformation.

Class 1 (Sept 19). Writing What You Don’t Remember

  • Techniques for writing what you remember
  • How to free yourself from the burden of not needing to remember everything
  • Tools for exploring the depths of your remembered and unremembered experiences
  • Unconventional storytelling for the memory-challenged

Class 2 (Sept 26). Characterization of the Self in the Narrative Arc

  • How to track your narrative “I” and how you can learn from Susannah’s many “I’s”—her normal self; her diagnosed self; her ill self; her “guinea pig” self; her recovering self; her advocate self
  • How to characterize yourself and others in unreliable narratives
  • The importance of pacing as it pertains to characterization and character development in the storyline
  • Distinguishing between the real, the unreal, and the possibly real and why to make sure your readers know what’s what.

Class 3 (October 3). The Power of Showing

  • How to write descriptions that show
  • Varying up tenses as a showing technique
  • How to make your reader feel what you feel by tracking the intensity, discomfort, physical reactions, and other visceral experiences in Brain on Fire
  • The importance of showing broader cultural issues in your era and/or as pertinent to your particular issue

Class 4 (October 10). Takeaways and Other Devices to Create Meaning

  • How and why to use journalist techniques to create takeaway
  • An exploration of different types of takeaways
  • The power of unconventional narrative techniques and how and why they create meaning
  • How to get at the heart of what matters in your own memoir to write a book that changes lives

Sign up here.

How to Write a Memoir That Changes Lives – Free Webinar September 12, 2016

Brain on Fire webinar

Brain on Fire webinarLinda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner are back with the next installment of their best-selling memoir series, with a free offering.

FREE WEBINAR:

Join us on Monday, September 12, for “What Made Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire a Best-selling Memoir?”

Monday, September 12

4pm PT | 5pm MT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET

Come discover how to crack the code and create a memoir that has the capacity to change lives with this free webinar exploring the New York Times bestseller Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan.

We chose Brain on Fire for our next installment in our bestseller series because it’s a fast-paced memoir that has a lot to teach memoirists about how to write what you don’t remember; the value of advocating for others through your writing; and the power memoir holds to truly change lives.

Susannah Cahalan brilliantly captures her month of madness, despite the fact that she recalls almost nothing of what happened during that time. She uses effective techniques, like dropping into the point of view of others, incorporating records and journals, and excerpting bits from video sessions.

In pushing the boundaries of memoir through the use of multiple “I” narrative voices, Brain on Fire is a valuable teaching tool to aspiring memoirists who want to better grasp the power of transformation.

In this FREE webinar, Brooke and Linda Joy will explore:

• How Cahalan’s mission-driven sensibility showed up in her work, and in what ways having a mission (as opposed to an agenda) at the heart of your memoir serves your story.

• How to deal with what you don’t remember—and why you can’t write a memoir that changes lives if everything you don’t remember is off limits.

• What Brain on Fire can teach you about structure and narration—from short chapters to writing from various “I” narrators to the story arc that makes this book such a page-turner.

• How to use journalism techniques to drive home your points, educate your readers, and deliver a memoir that matters.

Join us for this hour-long free webinar Monday, September 12, at 4pm PT | 5pm MT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET.

Learn more and register for this free event.

Fall 2015 Telesummit | Truth and Transformation in Memoir

Telesummit stars photo-2015

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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Reynolds, Susan_Author Photo
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

 

DeSalvo_Louise
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

JordLeaning crop

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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FREE Roundtable: How to Write a Killer Memoir When the Doubt Gremlins Won’t Stop Nagging

AppleMark

AppleMarkJuly 2, 2015

4 PDT  5 MDT  6 CDT  7 EDT

Sign up to get free audio download of this event.

We are so pleased at the National Association of Memoir Writers to welcome back Lynn Goodwin. She’s the owner of Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com, which will celebrate its 18th year in October, 2015. Lynn helps writers get out in the world through her frequent contests through Writer Advice. Sign up for her newsletter so you can find out more.

Date: July 2 at 4 PM PDT / 5 PM MDT / 6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT

Topic: How to Write a Killer Memoir When the Doubt Gremlins Won’t Stop Nagging

Guest: Lynn Goodwin

Listen to the recording.

From Lynn:
I got married for the first time at age 62 to a 2-time widower I met on … gulp … Craigslist. By the second date I was collecting material for a personal essay. By the second month I was imagining our story as a memoir. I wanted to write a sane, balanced and truthful story without lapsing into melodrama. Despite a background in writing, teaching writing, and editing, I found myself facing problems I’ve helped others solve.

 

How could I cope with

  • They-who-shall-not-be-named
  • Unflattering truths
  • Time constraints
  • The constant lure of social media

I’ll talk about all that and explain how writing helped me gain perspective on my relationship, weigh my choices, and open my heart as well as my mind.

You will learn or rediscover

  • How to find the heart of your story and dig into it
  • How to move through fears and doubts
  • How to keep your story active and dynamic
  • How to polish and perfect your storyHow and why reading other memoirs helps

B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, (Tate Publishing). Her stories and Lynn Goodwinarticles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Friction Literary Journal, Inspire Me Today, several newspapers additional online sites, and The Sun. She conducts workshops, coaches individuals, and writes reviews for Story Circle Network, www.storycircle, as well as Writer Advice. She’s recently been published in Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers, Small Miracles from Beyond: Dreams, Visions and Signs that Link Us to the Other Side, True Words and the Las Positas Anthology. Her young adult novel, Talent (Eternal Press) will be available soon. http://www.writeradvice.com/manuscriptconsultation.html

 

 

NAMW Member Teleseminar: Naming it – Telling the Truth About Family Abuse

Marion Roach Smith

Marion Roach Smith

Date: June 19, 2015

Time:

11 am PDT 12 pm MDT 1 pm CDT 2 pm EDT

To get the recording join today.

How do you write memoir about the damage of family abuse? When you do, what level of truth do you need to bring to the piece? Maybe you are living with something right now that is too difficult to write in real time. Perhaps it is in your past. We will discuss how to make notes on the present or write about past, as well as how to decide which time in your life you want to write from. Thinking about these issues is enough to stop even the boldest writer. But don’t let it stop you. Let’s talk about abuse and how to write about it successfully.

 

Points to be covered will include:

• How to access the truth from a complex family trauma
• What details from your story you need to reveal for the piece to work
• Maintaining anonymity and privacy when writing about abuse
• Understanding whose story it is and taking ownership of the tale

Author bio
Marion Roach Smith is the author of four books, as well as the co-author of several others. Her most recent book is The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life (Grand Central, 2011) She is a former staff member of The New York Times. A commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” she has published in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Time Science Times, The Los Angeles Times, Prevention, Good Housekeeping, Discover, and Martha Stewart Living and elsewhere. Since 1998, she has taught classes in writing memoir, and now teaches worldwide online. She blogs about writing memoir on www.marionroach.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