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National Association of Memoir Writers  Be Brave. Write Your Story

August 2011 Newsletter | Issue #48

Welcome to the August 2011 NAMW Newsletter

Welcome to all of our new and existing NAMW members and to the new subscribers to our newsletter! We love connecting with you and learning about your memoir writing life, challenges and questions.

I wonder if we should call this “The Summer of the Memoir?” So many memoirs are being released, it’s hard to keep up, but I’m trying! Highest on the list of memoirs released this summer is A Stolen Life by Jaycee Lee Dugard—the story of her kidnapping, abuse, and captivity for 18 years. Many of you may have seen her interview on Diane Sawyer–I’ve posted it on my personal blog–where she shared her powerful story of survival. Her book has been number 1 on Amazon for over two weeks.

Most people were stunned to see such a composed and glowing young woman given what she’d endured, including the birth of two children by her kidnapper. Many if not most memoirist are drawn to memoir for similar reasons as Jaycee—to chronicle what happened in your own words, to claim the events of your life, to give testimony. Of course there are many reasons to write a memoir—to entertain, to leave a legacy, and to provide personal, family and community history, but so many memoirs are about healing and transformation or bearing some kind of witness to injustice, we can see the grass roots need for people to have a voice, to speak out—and perhaps for the first time to be listened to.

Another memoirist whose goal seems to be helping to right wrongs as well as offer testimony is by Eva Gabriellson—There are a Few Things I Want You to Know about Stieg and Me. As many of you already know, Stieg Larsson wrote The Milennium Trilogy—the first book is called The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo in America. His title for the series was “Men Who Hate Women” as he wanted to create an awareness of sex trafficking in Sweden and around the world, and show how a small young woman fights back against a corrupt and unjust system. The interesting thing about the memoir is that Eva takes us behind the scenes to show how much Larssen borrowed from their real lives to create his amazing series—their pet projects, coffee houses, summer homes, and vacation spots.

The third memoir I have read this summer is Reading my Father by Alexandra Styron, the daughter of the famous novelist William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice and other major works. I heard Alexandra speak on a BlogTalkRadio show with Sarah Saffian, memoirist and former executive director of SheWrites, and Kathryn Harrison, author of the controversial memoir The Kiss.

For an hour I was riveted as these women discussed writing the truth, exposing real life characters and the responsibility of a memoirist to be fair. Both Kathryn and Alexandra wrestled with balancing what they needed to write with what others might say in response, but in the end it was their story to claim and to write. I typed furiously, trying to listen and also to take notes on this amazing and inspiring conversation about topics that all memoirists deal with all the time.

In the workshops at NAMW, and during our teleseminars and Roundtable Discussions, these kinds of questions come up from the audience and are discussed by the experts who are presenting that day. If you are a NAMW member, you can listen at any time to any of the over 50 audios about memoir writing by logging in and downloading them from the Member Download Page.

I’m pleased to announce that Robin Hemley has agreed to be one of our Keynote Speakers at our Fall 2011 Memoir Writing Telesummit: Truth and Lie in Memoir and Fiction. The day-long event is set for October 21, 2011. Please save the date and stay tuned for more details!

Younger Memoir Voices

Jaycee Lee Dugard is thirty-one years old, so her voice is that of a younger person looking back at that portion of her life and making sense of it. Many younger people are writing recovery memoirs, travel memoirs, and memoirs that reflect on society. We are looking forward to connecting with younger memoirists, so if you are one, or you know some memoirists under the age of forty who you think would like to talk about their book, blog, or published works, let us know at info@namw.org. And be sure to join us for our Memoir Writing Roundtable on Thursday August 4, 2011 as Elisabeth Eaves, Author of Wanderlust and Oksana Marafioti, Author of American Gypsy, join us to discuss Writing About Your Youth. This event is free and a recording is made available to everyone who signs up in advance of the event.

A Memoirist I’ve Always Admired—Jennifer Lauck –our Member Teleseminar expert this month!

I’m so pleased to have Jennifer Lauck join us for our August Member-only Teleseminar. Quite a few years ago, I was agape with wonder and admiration as she presented her second in a series of memoirs at our local bookstore, Book Passage. Jennifer’s first memoir Blackbird is a powerfully written book from a little girl’s point of view that had me reading until late in the night. The voice of that child helped me to decide to cast my own memoir Don’t Call Me Mother in the child’s POV and have her grow up through the book. I admired Jennifer’s courage and her ability to write such a powerful book about a child who lost her mother, and had to learn how to cope with a new family.

Jennifer was pregnant with her second child at that time, and I had the impression she was still getting used to being a famous author. A few years passed and she wrote another book, but then suddenly she was appearing at another local bookstore early this year with yet another memoir Found—about finding her birth mother. Now Jennifer is older, her children are a decade older and she has used writing as a way to find herself and her truths again and again, which gives us all permission to write more than one memoir, and to keep using writing our personal stories as a way to sort through life’s mysteries and puzzles, to help us find ourselves and live more easily in our own skin.

I really look forward to having this talented and experienced memoirist as our guest this month! Come prepared by reading at least these wonderful memoirs and have your questions and comments ready.

And if you aren’t already aware, today is our Bi-Annual Membership Drive, where we are celebrating Christmas in July with a special gift for everyone who becomes a member or extends an existing membership today ONLY! We are very excited about our new self-paced memoir writing course, Everything You Need to Know About Memoir Writing in Three Easy Lessons and are happy to share it with you as our special gift to you, TODAY only!

Remember–be brave, write your stories!

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT

NAMW President & Founder

Upcoming NAMW Events

We have several events and new workshops that are being planned for the coming months at NAMW that will be helpful to the development of your skills as writers, memoirists, or personal historians. You can find all the finalized events for August, September and October outlined below, but please be sure to visit the NAMW website often for new additions. We’ll add the October Roundtable and Teleseminar in the coming days!

August 2011
Thursday August 4, 2011August NAMW Public Memoir Writing Roundtable Tele-conversation: Writing About Your Youth with Oksana Marafioti & Elisabeth EavesFREE FOR EVERYONE–Click Here to Pre-Register and for MORE DETAILS
Friday August 12, 2011Diana RaabAugust NAMW Member-only Teleseminar: Write Your Memoir This Year with Jennifer Lauck NAMW Monthly Member-only Teleseminar / Conference Call–become a member to participate for free!CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS!
September 2011
Thursday September 8, 2011September NAMW Public Memoir Writing Roundtable Tele-conversation: Writing About times of Grief with Madeline Sharples and Eleanor VincentFREE FOR EVERYONE–MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!
Friday September 16, 2011Diana RaabSeptember NAMW Member-only Teleseminar: It’s Just My Story, Does Grammar Really Matter? with Jami Carpenter, the Red Pen Girl. NAMW Monthly Member-only Teleseminar / Conference Call–become a member to participate for free!–MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!
Beginning September 20, 2011Diana Raab

Intermediate to Advanced Healing Memoir & Spiritual Autobiography Telephone-based workshops – 9 sessions with Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., NAMW President

$375 for NAMW Lifetime Members / $390 for NAMW Annual members/ $525 for non-NAMW members| Become a member to receive a discount! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS!

October 2011

Friday October 21, 2011Diana Raab

Truth & Lie in Memoir & Fiction–Mark Your Calendar for the Fall 2011 Day-Long Memoir Writing Tele-Summit Keynote Speaker Robin Hemley will present along with 5 other experts on the art, craft and business of memoir. Recordings available for all sessions, just for signing up!–WATCH FOR MORE DETAILS, COMING SOON!

Featured NAMW Member

We are pleased to announce that Theresa Ceniccola has been selected by the NAMW Advisory Board as the NAMW Featured Member of the month for August 2011!

Congratulations, Theresa!  We are very proud to have you as an NAMW member!

Liberation Through Childhood in Memoir Writing

by Oksana Marafioti, Author of American Gypsy & NAMW Rountable Panel Expert for August

I came across this picture in a Romani pamphlet called The Notable Gypsies of Russia.  My grandparents are in the middle row center. Nearly every person I grew up with made their living on stage, and I have albums full of images just like this one to prove it. However, there was a period in my life when the glamour and glitz of the limelight mattered little to me. Growing up in the former Soviet Union, I was well aware of the shady reputation artists held in the eyes of many a good citizen. Theirs wasn’t considered a true craft, but something lazy people did to avoid hard work. In an attempt to hide my family’s profession from my classmates I’d make up new ones. My father was a butcher, my mom a school teacher. My grandparents, like proper grandparents, were retired and spoiled me with sweets during our visits.

But reality is what you see in that photo.

The reality is that I spent my girlhood watching vaudeville-like performances from the wings of ancient Soviet theaters, and inevitably, fell in love with the stage.

I still remember the way my mother’s stage skirt frothed around her ankles when she danced. The smell of velour house curtains always draws me to sit in the front rows of theaters. A simple Gypsy tune can push me to bawling inside seconds.

[Click Here to Read the Full Article]

Writing Prompts for August 2011

  1. What are your three favorite memoirs, and why? This exercise will give you experience writing a book review. It’s a good idea to write book reviews and post them on Amazon. This can help you build your platform when your own book comes out.
  2. If you were to divide your life into three memoirs, what would you write about? Think about a new theme or twist to your life story for each one.
  3. Write titles for the memoirs—plural– you want to write. Brainstorm several titles per book. Let yourself go and get into your imagination.
  4. Think of the title of a memoir you would write at age 25. Another one at age 40. 65. You can be any age to do this. How might you see your life differently at each of these stages? Be inventive with this exercise, and have fun mapping it out.
  5. Read some of the books mentioned in this article and notice how the author structures the book, list the themes of the memoirs, and write about why you think they are successful. Remember, this is your opinion. Back up your reasons for your opinion.

Memoirs Ink Bi-Annual Memoir Writing Contest 2011

Memoirs Ink is looking for original, well-written personal essays, memoirs, or stories that are based on autobiographical experiences. The narrative must be in first person, other than that, the contest is open to any type, genre or style of story. Stories can be funny or sad, serious, artsy or fragmented. We are interested in pushing the boundaries of memoir and also in just regular memoir that doesn’t try too hard–so long as it moves us. This contest is open to any writer, any age, writing in English–that means Canadians, Brits, Australians, Ugandans and anyone else anywhere can enter. Early Deadline: August 15, 2011. Late Deadline: August 31, 2011

Other Voices Magazine’s Literary Non-Fiction Contest

Other Voices has opened up a NEW contestfor this fall! Do you have a work of literary non-fiction that you think will blow us away? Submit it to the NEW fall contest.

$250.00 for the winning entry. Honourable Mentions will receive the choice of an Other Voices tote bag, travel mug or t-shirt.

Other Voices Publishing Society (OVPS) is a not-for-profit organization that strives to be a stepping stone for all published and emerging writers. We publish Other Voices Journal of Literary and Visual Arts twice yearly in Spring and Fall. Deadline: September 1, 2011

Scribing the Soul: Transforming Your Life Through the Power of Writing

Featuring Kay Adams and the Center for Journal Therapy Practitioners

September 23-24th, 2011

Colorado Heights University

Early bird registration $99 until July 31st

Keep writing! If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a workshop, teleseminar or roundtable topic please let us know. Email us at: info@namw.orgAnd thank you very much for your support of the National Association of Memoir Writers!

Warm regards,

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT

President & Founder

National Association of Memoir Writers


Remember, be brave. Write your stories!

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