Tag Archives: Betsy Graziani Fasbinder

APRIL Roundtable Webinar- FREE to All- April 6, 2017

Betsy Graziani Fasbinder

Exposed: Telling Our Deep Truths in Memoir or Fiction

April 6, 2017

 4 PM PDT  5 PM MDT  6 PM CDT  7 PM EDT  

We want to welcome Betsy Graziani Fasbinder to our book discussion this month. We have been in the same writing group for over fourteen years, the Bellas, and here at NAMW we are celebrating her first memoir, Filling Her Shoes, but it’s not her first book. Three years ago her novel Fire and Water was published from which she drew personal experiences to create a fictional story. The core of a story is the truth you need to tell, and today we’re going to hear from Betsy how she transitioned from fiction writer to the full out exposure in a memoir. Congratulations Betsy!


When Betsy Graziani Fasbinder was about to marry her husband, a widowed father, she knew she’d also become her first son’s second mother. She knew that she didn’t want to become any version of a wicked stepmother common in fairytales, and she was determined not to repeat her own abusive family history.

Filling Her Shoes: A Memoir of an Inherited Family is the story of a woman who stepped into the shoes of another mother taken too soon, and learning along the way that she’d need to find her own stride in the journey her new family would walk together.  This is the story of how love and loss are not opposites, but cohabitants in family life and how family is the richest inheritance of all.

Why I wrote and published this story now

I wrote these stories originally just for myself.  When I was becoming Max’s mother, none of the parenting books in the bookstore offered me what I needed. Either they were about welcoming a new baby or becoming a stepparent after a divorce. Neither of these described what I faced, so  I wrote my story to gain perspective in those moments. At the time, I also felt that I didn’t want to burden my son or my husband, who had suffered such a tragic loss, with the doubts and fears that I was carrying in my role.  Now, my older son is an adult, 32 years old. He’s happy, thriving, and living independently. I no longer feel the need to protect anyone from my own emotional process of the events of our lives. I needed this time not only to gain perspective, but to know that the story has a happy ending.

  • The vulnerability of writing yourself as a character in your story.
  • The importance of making emotion sensory in scenes…the “show don’t tell”, and techniques for writing that create a vivid story.
  • Finding the universality of a very personal story so readers can connect.
  • Discovering that “truth” can be told in both fiction and memoir.
  • The power of pacing, and using light and dark stories to give readers a chance to breathe between tough scenes.
  • Discovering that even in fiction, if we’re writing emotional truth, themes of our own lives inevitably come through.
  • Though the plot and circumstances between fiction and memoir are vastly different, the themes seemed to have their own gravitational pull, tugging us back to the truth that we need to tell.



Betsy Graziani Fasbinder has been a writer her entire life, and began to share her work with others in her early forties. She has been a licensed therapist for 25 years. Her debut novel, Fire & Water has been honored with an honorary mention in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York Book Festivals. An excerpted chapter of Filling Her Shoes was published in Women’s Day Magazine. Betsy lives in Marin County, California with her husband, Tom, in their intermittently empty nest. They just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Their old dog, Edgar (Edgar Allan Paw) is her most faithful writing companion.

Trainer, Leadership Consultant, Marriage Family Therapist


Twitter @BetsyGFasbinder


Audio and webinar recording below:

2017-04-06 16.01 NAMW Free Roundtable Discussions from Linda Joy Myers on Vimeo.

How to Ethically Use Fiction in Your Memoir and Truth in Your Fiction

 Betsy's PR Shot,_edited-1

July  26 Member Teleseminar

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

The common denominator in both fiction and memoir is writing “essential truth”: constructing your story’s plot and emotional current so readers experience the essential emotional truth of the story.

This one-hour teleseminar will address the ethics and some of the writing techniques of using actual events, people, and places as part of your fiction writing and altering real-life circumstances, people, or events in memoir writing.


In this teleseminar we’ll explore the following topics:

  • Avoiding the big memoir no-no: Using fictional writing techniques as differentiated from “fictionalizing.”
  • Is there a difference between “fact” and “truth” in memoir? When does using fictional elements go too far? When is alteration appropriate and ethical?
  • Do you want—or need—to stand behind the “fictional wall” with your memoir story?  (Really, it’s okay if you do.)  
  • Becoming the best kind of thief: Robbing your real life experiences to inform or inspire your fiction.
  • Avoiding the Oprah Confessional as well as law suits:  Learning from the errors of others.
  • ·         What am I writing here?  Examining your goals for writing your story as memoir or fiction. 

Betsy’s website:  www.betsygrazianifasbinder.com

Betsy’s Bio: 

In both her works of memoir and fiction, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder explores the unending complications of people living, working, and loving one another.  As a practicing therapist for more than twenty years, she has been witness to the heartbreak, healing, and heroism of people from all walks of life. She strives to create stories that bring the emotional truths she’s experienced and observed to the pages in all of her writing. She’ll be addressing the issues of truth and fiction as a breakout speaker at the San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Writers Conference in February 2014.

Betsy’s debut novel, Fire & Water, was released by She Writes Press in March of 2013. Betsy is the co-producer of the highly successful Women’s Writing Salon in Nevada County a quarterly event that has for more than five years celebrated the too-often-unheard voices of women writers. She’s currently designing a writing Salon for Marin County, California called “Words Off Paper” which will launch in fall of 2013.

Betsy is currently working on a collection of personal essays titled Filling Her Shoes: My Love Story of Inherited Motherhood. Crush is Betsy’s novel in progress and its California’s wine country setting is making for some delightful research.



February 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to the February 2013 happenings at the National Association of Memoir Writers! In California, the flowers are starting to pop out, but many of you are still covered in snow. Spring will come soon!

We have some great events at the National Association of Memoir Writers, and want you to know about them, especially some tips on how to best make use of writing conferences.


Celebrating the Art of Writing at the San Francisco Writing Conference

Michael Larsen and Linda Joy SFWC 2013

Linda Joy Myers and Michael Larsen at the SFWC 2013

It’s hard to put into words sometimes how fantastic something is—even as a writer! People are always saying it’s important to attend writer’s conferences, and while we may think it sounds fun, we open our purses and look inside to see if it’s possible. It’s true—attending a live writing conference instead of one online includes travel expenses and time away from home. It means changing your life around for several days, and living out of a suitcase. It means ruffling your feathers and trying something new. It means being brave and putting yourself and your work out there. It can change your life. It’s like going to university for a few days, but only studying what you love. And then you can go back home.

I jotted down some highlights from the amazing and buzzing San Francisco Writing Conference, 2013—orchestrated so well by a team of writers, agents, and volunteers under the inspiration of Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen. This was the 10 year anniversary of the conference and many thought it the best yet. Why was that? Why should you attend a big conference like this?

  1. Networking—everyone you will meet is passionate like you about investing in their writing life. They have friends, perhaps agents or other writers who are connected to other people etc. Chat it up with people in line, get their cards, and stay in touch afterward. Many new book deals are made because of networking. Buy books! Connect with authors you meet at the conference, published and unpublished. Get on email lists.
  2. Quality Information—every panel discussion and workshop is aimed at delivering high quality information and not a small dose of inspiration. Take out your notebook and learn. Ask questions, stick around afterward and connect with the presenters. Develop your network! Find out how to learn more from them.  Read more here!

Some Writing Tips

  1. Be open to finding new friends, colleagues, and professional resources.
  2. Even if you’re a beginner, see yourself as a writer.
  3. Present a professional, curious, and respectful persona to all who attend.
  4. Get everyone’s card and generously give out yours. Even if you don’t have a book you can say “Writer.”
  5. Think of new ways you can shape your elevator pitch and practice it.
  6. Take great notes, and save your material on your computer to Evernote so you can synch it to all your devices.
  7. Take lots of photos and post them on social media. Build your network and platform.
  8. Have fun!
  9. Invest in an author, buy books!


The Ghost in All of Us 

Because our member teleseminar this week is about ghost writing, I was meditating on ghosts—there are several ways to think about them. But first I want to say that our teleseminar is going to be a very helpful program about ghostwriting from all angles: for those who might want to hire a ghostwriter to help with writing or completing a book, and for writers who are interested in being a ghostwriter themselves. I’ve known Kim Pearson for several years, and her information and skills are first rate!

But back to the ghosts. If you think about it, when we include other “characters” in our books—which we have to do—memoir is always about more than just “I” the writer—we’re writing someone else’s story. We’re voicing their story, we’re choosing the language, clothing, dialogue as best we can to present a world that often we were not alive to experience. I know that when I wrote about my great-grandmother’s life in the 19th century, I used research, some family stories, and details gleaned from the 1894 Sears Catalogue to try to make that world come alive.

We need to honor those who appear in our stories, whether they are alive or dead, by doing a great job capturing their lives—through imagination, research and a kind of deep listening.

Listen to the whispers of truth that appear in the old sepia photos; look beyond your family myths and see if you can glean new ways to interpret who people were, what they wanted, what they might have dreamed.

As a ghostwriter, you have to use these kinds of skills—and more! I look forward to learning more about ghostwriting with you at our Teleseminar this week! Friday, February 22 at 11 AM PST/2 PM EST.


 Workshops and Events


Tired of Just Saying You’re Going to Finish Your Memoir?

 Rev Up to Write Your Memoir”

FREE call on Tuesday, Feb 26, at 4pm PST | 7pm EST


Any writer who’s longing to write a memoir can rattle off a number of things that get in their way—no time, other priorities, lack of motivation, resistance.

This call is for you if you have a memoir-in-progress, or even an idea for a memoir, and you’re needing that extra bit of motivation to just make it happen already!


In this call, join Linda Joy and Brooke to explore:

  • common reasons for abandoning your memoir and how to get your groove back
  • strategies for prioritizing your writing
  • ways to confront what’s holding you back
  • ideas for reconnecting to the heart of your story and what moves you

Tuesday, Feb 26, at 4pm PST | 7pm EST 

Dial-in number: 530-881-1300

Access code: 879104


Free Memoir Roundtable:  Real Life Characters—The Heart of your Memoir

March 7, 2013 


We’re so pleased to have Suzanne Sherman talk with us about developing your characters in a memoir. We know that they’re “real people” yet we have to bring them alive so others can know them too.

In fiction, writers give focused attention to creating characters that carry the plot forward. Character motivation is a continuing consideration as they reveal the central and secondary characters through the book or short story. In screenwriting, the same is true.

In memoir, our job is different. We aren’t creating characters and deciding their relevant motivations, we’re taking what’s here and turning it into story. We’re writing about central and secondary characters and we’re drawing them in 3-D, so readers get to know them.

Characters — the people in our life stories — are at the heart of it all.

Sign up here.


Book Launch Event  San Francisco Bay Area

March 2, 2013 1 PM

DCMM Cover Final 9781938314025.indd

The new edition of my memoir Don’t Call Me Mother and I will be celebrated at the book launch of a friend and writing colleague Betsy Graziani Fasbinder—she’s launching her new novel, Fire & Water. I honor of Women’s History Month in March, Betsy invited five women writers as featured guests at her launch.  We will all be celebrating women’s voices!

When: Saturday, March 2nd 1 PM

Where: Book Passage

51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925




My new workbook Journey of Memoir—The Three Stages of Memoir Writing was released by SheWrites Press on Valentine’s Day!  It’s a workshop in a book, chock full of the craft tools and inspiration you need to Kick Start, develop, and publish your memoir. You can order it hereJourney to Memoir

In Journey of Memoir you will find lessons on how to write a great scene; information on the difference between freewriting and outlining, and why you need both; timeline and turning point exercises to help create structure; and much more.
Memoir guru Linda Joy Myers packs a lot into this useful manual. This is more than a workbook full of exercises and prompts (although it has lots of them!). It’s a guide from a veteran who understands the complexity of the memoir journey, and an anchor that will keep you on track if ever you start to lose sight of your inspiration or end goal. If you’re writing a memoir, this workbook will become your new best friend.

–Brooke Warner, author of What’s Your Book?

It’s about time someone wrote a real guide for memoirists of all levels. A must-read for anyone who has ever wanted to write their life story but didn’t know where to begin. Concise, simple and highly effective.

–Oksana Marafioti, author of American Gypsy


Wild-book-cover-202x300The National Association of Memoir Writers is co-sponsoring a workshop with Cheryl Strayed June 1, 2013 in Petaluma, CA. Click the link to sign up for the great opportunity to work with Cheryl. Learn from the New York Times bestseller about how to write a successful memoir! Her memoir is a classic, and her workshops are always sold out. We’re happy to be one of the sponsors for her workshop. Come and meet us, learn from Cheryl, and enjoy an amazing day focused on memoir writing.

Read more about Cheryl here: http://www.cherylstrayed.com

Blog post about using Wild to help you write your memoir at http://memoriesandmemoirs.com


Magic bookWhere are you in your writing life?

  • Do you find yourself with ideas, story seeds, and memories that have meaning for you?
  • Are there family stories you want to capture, and amazing moments in your own life that might inspire others?
  • Have you always wanted to write a book, but aren’t sure how?
  • Do you want to write a whole book or a series of short memoir pieces?
  • Would you like to write for contests or anthologies?

If you’ve started to write, and feel stuck, a coach can help you find your way out. Or if you’re nearly done with your memoir but wonder if you have made the right choices in plot, language, character development, and tone, a coach can help you ask the right questions to solve your problems.

Think of a coach as someone who is on your side, who has tools, ideas, and the skills to help you past your stuck places. Your coach helps you see what is working in your manuscript and what is not, and then guides you to find the tools you need to make your writing shine.

As the founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, I’m passionate about helping memoirists and nonfiction writers meet their goals and challenges. Whether it’s a seed of an idea, stories that need a professional eye, or support for planning a book or your writing career, we can discuss what will most help you meet your creative goals.

Read more here!


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