Tag Archives: Denis LeDoux

Explorations Beyond the Traditional Memoir: Taking the Authority to Write another Person’s Story

Denis Ledoux

July Member Teleseminar

July 21, 2017

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

When you write your own memoir, you have access to the expert: you. While this is not easy, there are fewer hurdles to manage when writing about your life than when you write someone else’s story. You have to get into the point of view of someone whose life you have not lived. While writing through the eyes of someone else is related to ghostwriting, it’s different and Denis will discuss these differences.

In this presentation, Denis Ledoux, memoir writer, teacher, coach, editor and ghostwriter will share what he sees as the differences between ghostwriting and claiming another’s point of view. He wrote his mother’s memoir We Were Not Spoiled [written with her as a somewhat-passive informant] and his wife’s, A Sugary Frosting—A Memoir of a Girlhood Spent in a Parsonage and My Eye Fell into The Soup—A Journal Memoir of Living with Stage 4 Cancer [written after her death].

Denis will discuss:

  1. Assuming the authority to write the memoir of another person from the first person and why that is essential. Assuming this authority separates memoir from biography.
  2. When you can do this and when you can’t.
  3. Using Memory Lists to outline and explore the person’s life. Memory Listing is perhaps as close as you get to a magic bullet to banish writer’s block and keep you writing month after month.
  4. Researching the bigger picture to have a context for writing about a life with perspective and historical insights.
  5. Interpreting the person’s life using the Memory List, your intuition, and research. Interpretation can be dangerous territory, and Denis will offer suggestions for navigating it safely to publication.
  6. Finding and working with review persons to help authenticate / validate what you wrote.

Denis Ledoux’s flagship book, Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories [available both in e- and hard copy], has been joined on Amazon by a number of other how-to books. Among them are Don’t Let Writer’s Block Stop You, Start Your Memoir Right and the free Memoir Writing 101. In the summer of 2017, he published the e- and the hard-copy of My Eye Fell Into The Soup / A Journal Memoir of Living with Stage 4 Cancer. It is drawn both from his wife’s journals and his own. My Eye Fell Into The Soup is the third in a series of five memoirs focused on his wife. The first in the series, The Nice-Nice Club Holds Its Last Meeting, is available free on Amazon.

  1. To access the most current catalog of his writing books, his memoirs, and other titles, visit the memoir store.
  2. To read over 500 free articles on memoir writing, go to http://thememoirnetwork.com/memoir-blog.
  3. To participate in the free membership offering multiple downloads: http://thememoirnetwork.com



Who’s the Author? What are the Rules? Writing Stories from the Point of View of Another

Denis Ledoux

May Member Teleseminar

May 13

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

Denis Ledoux is going to join us for our May 13 Member Teleseminar to talk about the idea of co-authoring his memoir A Sugary Frosting, —which is composed both  of stories from his late wife Martha and of stories he ghostwrote. In order to preserve her legacy, he “wrote” the book based on her own stories which were mostly beginnings and fragments of stories she had begun. When I asked Denis to join us to talk about the idea of authoring someone else’s voice, I did so because so many people now are wanting to present the stories of their loved ones. They’re not so much writing their own memoir, but capturing the voice and stories from the point of view of someone else, usually a close family member. Is this still a memoir? What are the rules? The world of memoir is shifting and evolving, and we’ll explore that during this discussion.

Here is what Denis has to say about this presentation.

When you are both a story teller and a story keeper, in thirty-one years of being in relationship with someone who is verbal—very verbal, you get to know many of her stories. A number of them you have heard not only because they are told directly to you as you went about your day—perhaps driving together into town or as you sat in the morning facing the woodstove sipping your coffee—but also because she told them to others in your presence. Often, details are added in this retelling or an emphasis changed for the benefit of the new auditor—and, unexpectedly, you understand an angle to the story that had eluded you earlier.

Martha wrote a number of her stories—always in segments. She intended to write a memoir, but her life was cut short by breast cancer before she could realize this goal.

Wanting to compile her memoir, A Sugary Frosting, I collected her compositions into a manuscript and soon realized there were details missing—details that I knew were necessary to create meaning in her story. I found myself adding her words that lived within me and my memory into the narrative. Eventually, more of the stories originated in my recall than from her original composition.

What to do with this? I wondered if it was all right for me to write so extensively in the first person.

Because I have been a ghostwriter for many years, entering into someone’s sensibility is a facility that I’ve long practiced. A good ghostwriter is always writing in the subject’s voice. He uses the vocabulary of the subject and he enters into the sensibility of the person whose story is being preserved.

This writing as if one were part of the sensibility of the subject has always been an energizing challenge of ghostwriting. When I found myself writing something that fit the drama of Martha’s story as I saw it but about which I was not certain, I would feel a tug toward what felt like The Story, toward something that demanded to be told.

I’m comfortable with calling A Sugary Frosting a fictionalized memoir but to me it’s a co-authored memoir.

In this teleconference I’ll share the process of writing A Sugary Frosting.

You will learn about:

  • How to compile and gather the legacy stories
  • Seeing through the eyes of someone else as you write
  • Preserving the voice of the original author
  • Finding the arc of your story



Denis-Ledoux (1)Denis Ledoux is the founder, director, and editor-in-chief of The Memoir Network, and its predecessor, The Soleil Lifestory Network, and the author of the classic  Turning Memories Into Memoirs, A Handbook for Writing Lifestories, and originator of the Turning Memories® Workshops.

He has worked with thousands of first-time and experienced writers through his workshops, as a writing editor, coach, and ghostwriter.

Denis holds a master’s degree in education and, in another life, taught English, creative writing, French, and Latin at both the high school and university levels. He especially enjoys the challenges of working with writers of all levels of accomplishment to craft insightful and well-written memoir out of  personal and family histories.

He was twice chosen for a Maine Individual Writing Fellowship and his collection of short stories, Mountain Dance, was selected for a Maine Fiction Award.

Denis Ledoux lives and works in his native Maine.



The Many Forms of Your Memoir—Which is Best For You?


flying books for TSWe welcome this blog post by Denis LeDoux, one of our NAMW Telesummit presenters May 15th! At his presentation, he will expand on these ideas, and you can ask questions about how you might want to present your memoir.

Your memoir can take many forms. What most people think of when they think of a memoir is perhaps the long memoir that reads like a novel. That’s how most memoirs in a bookstore or library read—or at least aspire to. A well-written novel-like memoir can engross the reader for a few hundred pages. The long novel-like form is definitely a great achievement for a memoirist, but it is not the only form that spells a successful completion for the writer and a satisfying read for an audience.

This post offers three alternate forms of the memoir.

1. The memoir as an anthology of your lifestories
“A memoir anthology?” you ask. “I’ve never heard the term before—unless you mean a collection of excerpts of other people’s memoirs.”
That’s not what I mean.
A memoir anthology is best thought of as analogous to a fiction anthology which is a collection of short stories. The collected stories of an author are usually grouped around a character or a theme. The stories are linked through sequencing that is often chronological or through recurring images and references. A collection of lifestories compiled in this way to make a statement can be an alternate—and possibly quicker— way of writing a memoir.

Is a memoir anthology easier to write? It may be because you do not have to concern yourself with creating transition stories or transition paragraphs. The long memoir seeks unity among its various components, but the memoir anthology need not do so.

Of course, the novel-like memoir—like every long piece of writing—is in some way an anthology of bits and pieces. Certainly as we compose a long memoir, we write here and there and everywhere in our story’s trajectory. Usually it is only later that we begin to order the lifestories and vignettes so that the ninth piece we wrote goes before the third piece and the first piece written gets placed somewhere after the eleventh, etc. To join these pieces, we write transition stories and paragraphs. The reader does not sense the chaotic order of composition nor does the reader sense how the stories were linked as indeed they were with much effort.

What I am calling a memoir anthology is different from the novel-like memoir. The individual stories have an inner unity, but the anthology itself does not have to. In a novel-like memoir, writers impose a stylistic unity to their story to give the reader a unified experience of the book. In a memoir anthology, the writer has no concern with that. In fact, the writer may even have purposefully written in different styles, and the reader, rather than finding this disturbing, may find it fascinating.
The memoir anthology is a great repository for stories written over many years that don’t easily fit together—other than they are about you or about a common theme.

2. The Memoir as a short book—or booklet
It is permissible and even sometimes the best choice to write a short memoir. People get stuck wanting to write a “real book.” Too often, people interpret a “real” book—a “real” memoir—as being a long book. A short book, for the record, is completely fine. By short, I mean something as short as five to fifteen thousand words.
This can work well when you want to write about distinct periods of your life without worrying about how to tie the various periods together. In that way a short book is like a memoir anthology except that it is its individual stories that are published. The short memoir, of course, can be published in a small hard-copy book, but with today’s technology, this short memoir is a sure thing for an electronic format.
If you are thinking of writing additional books, the short memoir will make an excellent “loss leader” item. Oftentimes, distribution media such as Amazon.com or Smashwords will allow you to offer a book for free. This increases the book’s downloads and so is an excellent teaser to attract a reader to a longer book or to a series. Your short memoir—whose subject matter lent itself to brevity—therefore can be an excellent tool for bringing a reader to a larger piece or body of work. Having said this, I also want to underline that it is perfectly all right to want to write a 5,000-to-fifteen-thousand word memoir and have that be the end goal.

My own “The Nice-Nice Club Holds Its Last Meeting” is only 7,000 words long. I feel it has an integrity that is not compromised by its brevity.

3. A third alternate is the personal essay.
The personal essay is different from the standard memoir in that the memoir is generally axed on story and character while the personal essay is usually focused on some idea: religion, money, relationship, art, etc. The personal essay is about the author’s thoughts and intellectual positions rather than the author’s trajectory through life. A personal essay generally addresses the reader’s mind whereas the memoir can be said to address the heart.
Is the personal essay based on autobiography an easier form to write than the memoir? I would not readily say so. Instead, I would say that the personal essay is simply another sensibility. Recently I read Somewhere Near The End by Diana Athill. This collection of (what I call) personal essays is marketed as a memoir—such is the great attraction force today of the memoir label!, but I would not call it that. Athill, who was 89 at the time of composition, writes about growing old, about her childhood, about sexuality in her relationships, about her approach to career, and so forth. The book does not attempt to cover whole periods of Athill’s life. We learn much about the author through the years, but the presentation is in not comprehensive nor is it an experience of walking a mile in the writer’s shoes. Instead, we are served ideas, but these ideas do add to a slice of the writer’s life.

My Send Off
I am not even going to go into other alternatives like the scrapbook or multi-media or the visual presentations to preserve one’s lifestory. Instead, I will continue to encourage you to think of a memoir as having many possible forms. It can be a long, novel-like book or it can be something different: a memoir anthology, a short piece, or a collection of personal essays.
I urge you to preserve your story in whatever form feels now most comfortable. Remember it is not about the form. It is about the legacy.

Action steps

1. Look at the piece you are currently working on. Is it really best as a full-length memoir or should it be broken down into memoir lifestories that could then be organized in an anthology form?
2. Go through your computer documents and look for bits and pieces, possibly fits and starts, and ask if you may have in the shorter documents the pieces you need to create an memoir anthology or a very short memoir of some 15,000-more-or-less-word memoir.
3. Or do you find yourself interested in exploring your relationship to ideas? Perhaps you prefer personal essays which are more intellectual than the memoir but if based on autobiography, can be a more fluid form for what you want to share.

Free Memoir Telesummit–Memoir in the New Millennium



May 3, 2013    10 AM-4 PM PDT

An All Day Teleconference with Experts in Memoir, Marketing, and Publishing

 Sign up to get your audio download for this free event.

Memoirs are more popular today than ever—an evolving a grass roots movement where ordinary people, not just the rich and infamous, write and publish their stories. Memoirs are more popular now than fiction. Why? There seems to be a revolution in the personal story world, where thousands of people connect to the worlds of other people, and witness the lives of others. Concurrent with the publishing revolution still in progress, for the first time in history, anyone can write and publish their personal history, memoir, or spiritual autobiography. Of course, it’s important to know how to best present your work as a professional writer, to gain the skills to know what is expected in the book world, how to write and edit your work, and to be familiar with other books in your genre. 

We are pleased to present our 10th  Memoir Telesummit—a free teleconference with experts in the areas of writing, publishing, blogging, and platform building.  Join us for a great day of learning, exploring, and sharing our passion about the ways that memoir writing and reading memoir has united people, and changed how literature and publishing are viewed. 


Denis Ledoux

A Grass Roots Movement: Memoir over the Last Two Decades–and Into the Future

10:00 AM PDT  11:00 AM MDT  12 PM CDT  1 PM  EDT

Denis LeDoux

Denis Ledoux was one of the first creators of a structured memoir course with workbooks, guidebook, a training manual, and affiliates. As one of the long term believers in memoir writing, Denis will talk about the opportunities memoir presents for self development, leaving a legacy, creating meaning and messages through the generations, and how writing and teaching memoir can change the world, one story at a time. 

Denis Ledoux grew up in a three-generation home with paternal grandparents who lived upstairs. Stories have always played an important role in Denis’ life. As a child, he heard tales of his extended family and their history recounted by the family storyteller, his memere. He directs the Soleil Lifestory Network, an international group of life story writing teachers who use his method and materials to lead the popular Turning Memories® and Photo Scribe® workshops and programs

Denis holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Education. He has taught Franco studies at the university level and has been a guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities on the subjects of cultural diversity and Franco North American culture and history. As a short story writer, he drew on family characters, settings, and stories for his fiction. In 1989, he won the Maine Fiction Award for Mountain Dance & Other Stories. His other titles include What Became of Them and Other Stories from Franco-America, and Lives in Translation: An Anthology of Contemporary Franco-American Writings which he edited. Denis’ short fiction has twice been honored with the Maine Writing Fellowship Award (1991, 1996), an NEA-based merit award. www.turningmemories.com



Jerry Waxler

The Memoir Revolution

11:15 AM PDT  12:15 PM MDT  1:15 PM CDT  2:15 PM  EDT

Lessons from the Memoir Revolution

jerry-head-28In the 21st century, many of us have begun to learn our own stories and share them with others. In this talk, Jerry Waxler, author of Memoir Revolution: Write Your Story, Change the World, shows how this new cultural awareness works, and how you can tap into it. Weaving together the literary requirements of the form, and its implications for personal development and social responsibility, the Memoir Revolution motivates and informs your effort to apply the power of Story to your life.

We will discuss: 

  1. How the memoir revolution invites memoir writers to band together to develop skills and stories.
  2. Powerful literary stories have always explored the psychology of their main characters. By writing a memoir, you become  such a character yourself, increasing your understanding of your power as an individual.
  3. The internet and self-publishing gives us the ability to find our own niche, providing us with a new, powerful way to understand social presence through our stories.
  4. The Memoir Revolution breaks taboos. We turn mistakes, regrets, failures into lessons. Regret and humiliation changes from shame which isolates to authenticity which connects.
  5. Life makes more sense in story than in memory.
  6. Learning to construct a Story is a valuable life skill.
  7. A groundswell of social awareness is shifting our collective attitude about the past, from the regret of lost stories to the joy of found ones.

Jerry Waxler teaches memoir writing at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania as well as online and around the country. His Memory Writers Network blog offers hundreds of essays, reviews, and interviews about reading and writing memoirs. His book Memoir Revolution explores the importance of memoirs in our times. He is on the board of the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and National Association of Memoir Writers and holds a BA in Physics and an MS in Counseling Psychology.



Stephanie Chandler

12:30 PDT  1:30 MDT  2:30 CDT 3:30 EDT

Own Your Niche on the Internet and Beyond: Simple Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books

Stephanie ChandlerBefore self-publishing her first book, Stephanie Chandler decided to build an audience online. The success of that effort led to book contracts with several traditional publishers, corporate sponsorships, major media coverage, product sales, and a variety of other opportunities. In this content-rich presentation, she shares the lessons that authors can use to effectively build an audience online. 

You will learn how to:

  • Identify and attract your ideal audience online
  • Create an effective website and optimize it for the search engines
  • Leverage blogging to increase traffic and increase sales
  • Conduct interviews with internet media sources
  • Use articles, podcasts, videos, and content marketing tactics to boost traffic
  • Expand revenues with information products
  • Utilize Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest—all without a big time commitment (really!) 

With so much competition in the publishing field, it is critical that publishers and authors find innovative ways to promote their work. Whether you already have one, two or twenty books to your credit or you are just getting started; effective internet marketing strategies can have a dramatic impact on your publishing success.

Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business, Booked Up! How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book to Grow Your Business. Stephanie is also founder and CEO of http://AuthorityPublishing.com, specializing in custom publishing for nonfiction books and social media marketing services. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, BusinessWeek, Inc.com, Wired magazine, and she is a contributing blogger for Forbes. For author and speaker information, visit http://StephanieChandler.com.


Joel Friedlander

Publishing Strategies for Self-Publishers 

1:45 PDT 2:45 MDT  3:45 CDT  4:45 EDT

Joel-4.2-200xMany authors are taking advantage of the tools to publish their own books, and that means also taking responsibility for their own publishing career. But with all the choices available, how do you know how to produce a book that will get you where you want to go? In this teleseminar we’ll look at a number of publishing paths memoir writers can take to get their books into print. Whether you’re writing to sell as many books as possible, or for more personal reasons, you’ll learn how to navigate these critical decisions.

  • Savvy strategies for personal and private publishers
  • Getting your books to your readers: distribution options for self-published memoirs
  • The crucial connection of marketing, distribution and production

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, and the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes TheBookDesigner.com, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Joel is also the founder of the online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap, and the new site BookDesignTemplates.com.


Matilda Butler

Walls Come Tumbling Down: Impact of Change on Publishing, Marketing, and Writing

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

Writing Alchemy-Matilda ButlerAs a wrap-up to the NAMW Telesummit, Matilda Butler, co-founder of www.WomensMemoirs.com, will talk about the changing face of the entire publishing industry and how we, as writers, need to know when to embrace it and when to stand firm.

 In her comments, Matilda will look at: 

– Four pillars of memoir writing

– Areas writers can easily embrace

– Ways to shore up the most important wall of all 

Matilda Butler and her co-author, Kendra Bonnett, have recently published Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep, the result of four years of researching, teaching, and fine-tuning a new process for writing. The second edition of their previously published collective memoir, Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story, has just been released. 

@WritingAlchemy   @WomensMemoirs

Tips for Memoir Writing–Fast! | Celebrate National Lifewriting Month!



I’m so pleased to be sharing my version of the journey of memoir writing at Nina Amir’s special blog to celebrate National Lifewriting Month! This is the month that memoir writers join the fiction folks over at NaNoWriMo to write as much as 50,000 words in 30 days. That is 6.5 pages a day. Can you do it? Are you willing to dedicate a couple of hours a day to see just how much you can write?


Tips for what we’ll call MemoirWriMo:

1. Write fast, let ‘er rip.

2. Feed your imagination with photos and research when you’re not writing.

3. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or details. Get the basics down.

4. No time for that inner critic either. Blow on by it!

When you have a few minutes, stop by Nina’s blog:  http://writenonfictioninnovember.com

And sign up for our Roundtable Discussion this Thursday with Nina and veteran memoir workshop leader Denis LeDoux.

See you there!

Linda Joy



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