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Spring 2014 NAMW Memoir Telesummit Audio Recordings

National Association of Memoir Writers Telesummit

Angles of View–Writing and Sharing Your Memoir


Sue William Silverman Session One

The Serial Memoirist: How Many Memoirs Does it Take to Tell Your Story?

Sue William Silverman

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As a woman I live one life. As a writer of memoir, however, I live several. With each book, I observe myself as if through a different lens of a camera, each revealing its own story. In my new memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, I’m a Pat Boone groupie seeking to pass as Christian – refuge from my abusive Jewish father. In my first memoir, I explore this childhood incestuous relationship, while in my second memoir I write about 28 days I spent in rehab for a sexual addiction. But isn’t there more to me than an incest survivor recovering from sex addiction who is also a Pat Boone groupie? Yes! And I’m now at work on a new (untitled) memoir. So how many memoirs does it take to tell the story of one woman?

In this telesummit we’ll discuss:

  • How to find and define your various stories, so you aren’t trying to cram your whole life into one book.
  • How to write each book without repeating yourself, so each book can stand on its own.
  • But when do you have to repeat yourself in order to provide a solid context for each story?
  • How to discover the theme, the voice, the metaphors, the structure for each book.
  • How to turn an essay collection into a seamless whole.

Sue William Silverman’s new memoir is The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. Her two other memoirs are Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction, which is also a Lifetime TV movie, and Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, which won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir. As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN-Headline News. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

John KremerSession Two

How to Market a Memoir as a Bestseller

John Kremer

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Yes, memoirs can be bestsellers, not only on Amazon, but in real world
bookstores as well. You can sell the story of your life without having to
sell yourself.

  • Learn how other memoirs have become bestsellers.
  • Learn the four best ways to market a memoir.
  • Learn how to use social media to sell a memoir.
  • Learn what you need on your website (and what you don’t!).

John Kremer is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book as well as the developer of the Book Marketing Magic multimedia course. He has never written a memoir (and probably never will), but he has worked with many memoir writers to help them sell more books.


CHouser_TwitterPortraitSession Three

Write Your Flash Memoirs

Christine Houser

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What are flash memoirs, you ask? They are very short, personal stories – vignettes of roughly 300-2000 words. If you are struggling with getting your memoir started or are daunted by a book length project, writing vignettes can make it easier. Good flash stories are in high demand so they are also an additional route to getting published. Or, they might just be the change of pace that injects new vigor in your writing practice.

In this telesummit, we’ll look at a couple of great examples and have a lively, interactive discussion that explores:

– What makes a good flash memoir?
– Where can you read and/or submit flash nonfiction?
– How do you get started?

Christine Houser reads, writes, studies, and teaches flash-length creative nonfiction in Seattle. Her stories have been published in a variety of anthologies and magazines, and she writes a how-to blog at www.flashmemoirs.com. For story fodder, Chris travels widely and often eavesdrops while riding the San Juan Island ferries. Find her on Twitter @flashmemoirs and #cnf (creative nonfiction).


martha_aldersonSession Four

How to Pre-Plot Your Transformation in Your Memoir: Yes, Even Memoirs Have Plots!

Martha Alderson

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One of the most difficult elements of memoir writing is determining what life events to include and what memories to leave out. The benefit of pre-plotting is that by identifying key scenes needed at the beginning, the middle, and the end of every great memoir before you begin writing, you save yourself the pain of having to cut carefully crafted and written scenes that do not fit thematically with the deeper meaning of your memoir.

A memoir with a plot is exciting, emotional and meaningful. Character transformation, dramatic action and thematic significance are the three plot threads in every great memoir. Today, our focus is on the plot element of the main character — you. Life events are meaningful when they impacted you in such a way as to change you over time and led to an ultimate transformation. Pre-Plot your growth and transformation based on the actions that forced, caused, created a change in you and the deeper meaning of your transformation.

Of course, no one says you have to pre-plot first before you begin writing. Start writing scenes for your memoir now. Pre-plot as you write. Schedule time for each task. Each supports the other.

We will discuss:

  • The definition of plot and pre-plot
  • The three plot threads in every great memoir
  • How to pre-plot your own personal transformation
  • Essential transformational elements necessary in the beginning of your memoir, the middle, and the end
  • Identify where the emotion is going to be in your memoir — the heart of your own personal story

Martha Alderson, AKA the Plot Whisperer, has been deconstructing memoir, novel and screenplay plots for fifteen years. She leads transformational workshops for people privately and teaches plot workshops to novelists, memoirists, and screenwriters privately, at plot retreats, Writer’s Digest, and at writers’ conferences. She takes writers beyond words into the very heart of a story.

She has written several books as part of her Plot Whisperer series: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing , The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories, companion workbook to original The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Adams Media, a division of F + W Media), Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple (Illusion Press) and several ebooks.

As the founder of International Plot Writing Month, Martha manages the award-winning blog The Plot Whisperer which has been awarded top honors as a top writing advice blog by Writers Digest 2009-2013. Her vlog, “How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay” covers 27 steps to plotting your story from beginning to end and playlists to help writers create a compelling plot for their novels, memoirs and screenplays.

Martha, in collaboration with literary agent Jill Corcoran, teaches a series of online, live video plot chats with writers through A Path to Publishing. In collaboration with author Jordan Rosenfeld, Martha offers a series of Plot, Scene & Transformation retreats beginning in May, 2014, Mt. Madonna Center. www.writerpath.com