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

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


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.


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.

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

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


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


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.

Is Memoir on Your Bucket List? Free Memoir Webinar



FREE Memoir Webinar June 1 at 4pm PT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET

Is Memoir on Your Bucket List?

Have you been thinking of writing a memoir, but aren’t sure if you should, how your family will react, or where to start? These are typical places where people hesitate about writing their story. But you can get help for all these problems.

I am excited to join with my colleague Brooke Warner again to offer you a free webinar this next Monday, June 1 that addresses the places where people who want to write typically get stuck. It doesn’t help either when other writers broadcast that you have to be well known, or an experienced writer to write your own story.

Take it from us—and we have coached over 150 people in our Write Your Memoir in Six Months classes—all you need is the desire to write and be willing to jump into the project you have always been meaning to do: write your story, share the family stories you know so well, help others learn from your wisdom and life experience.

The details are below. Hope to see you on the call!
FREE webinar June 1 at 4pm PT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET

Is Memoir on Your Bucket List?

If so, let this be the year you make it happen! This free 1-hour is a celebration of the memoir phenomenon, and an exploration of why now is a fantastic time to start and/or finish your memoir.

What we’ll be covering:

The reasons why people write memoir.
One that we encounter often in the baby boomer generation is the desire to leave a legacy for the family. Maybe you want to explore who you were forty years ago, and to go deeper into your experience to sort out who you were and what your dreams were, and how you evolved into who you became. Another reason people write memoir is to find a way to tell a story that no one has ever told before—about themselves, about an experience. Do you have a story that’s full of inspiration? That might help or inform others? What are your stories? We invite you to consider this question and explore with us.

Understanding what memoir is.
There is still, amazingly, a lot of discussion about who should and shouldn’t write a memoir; whether people who aren’t likely to get picked up by a big publisher should bother to write. There is speculation that there is too much memoir being written now, and that somehow it’s reserved for people who have a “valuable” story to tell, which immediately puts a judgment on memoir. We know that each story is valuable. Each story has something to offer the reader. In our classes we teach about how to engage your readers, and refine what you’re writing, but first you need to get clear on what you have to share with the world.

5 solid strategies for getting started.
Every writer is different and every story needs a beginning. But do you know where to start? Or maybe you’ve started, and you need some tips for getting restarted? These strategies work for that too. We will discuss the ways that you can begin and develop your memoir. We’ll give you pointers for ways to sort out your hundreds of thousands of memories into your story—with themes, turning points, and lessons for the reader.

Success stories
Many of the writers we work with have finished their memoirs. Some have found agents, while others have gone on to publish their work with publishers or on their own. Many are working on their final revisions. Writing a memoir is an ongoing creative process that’s demanding at times, and other writers’ stories are often the inspiration and push you need to believe that you can do it too. We’ve worked with students who didn’t consider themselves “writers,” who learned the techniques of good writing and developed their craft and now fully own that title. When they sign with a publishing company or win prizes—as many of our authors have—we celebrate in their success. Writing a memoir does not have to be a dream you have, something you hope you might do one day; it can be a reality!



Hope to see you on the call!


Linda Joy

What Made Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club a New York Times Bestseller–Free Webinar

Mary Karr free

 Mary Karr free

Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club is one of the classic memoirs that started the Memoir Revolution. This book is so engrossing that anyone who’s read it has the same reaction: I LOVED THAT BOOK! As a reader, you identify with her raucous, dangerous family.

Karr’s honest exploration of sex, guns, and alcohol pushes the boundaries of what we might think we’re allowed to write, giving the rest of us creative inspiration and permission around what’s possible for us with our own writing. Karr’s a trustworthy narrator of tragedy and trauma, sprinkling hope and compassion throughout—the perfect recipe for a compelling memoir.


Join Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner, co-authors of Breaking Ground on Your Memoir, for an in-depth conversation about Mary  Karr’s The Liars’ Club, and a discussion about what made this memoir become a favorite.

  • How Mary Karr handles trauma in The Liars’ Club and what you can learn from her.
  • How to use varied narrative/voice techniques to guide the reader through a complicated story and through to transformation.
  • How Mary Karr’s uses a circular structure to unpack her intense story, and how to choose what to tell and when.
  • Ways to bring your characters to life, and what we can learn about character development in The Liars’ Club.


Sign up here and receive a free recording of the teleseminar




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