Trailblazer Honored in a Mother Memoir

Genevieve Zelenak, Diane's mom

Teaching “TellTale Souls – Tap Memory, Write Memoir” workshops is extremely rewarding for me, especially when people send me their bio-vignettes! And participants find their reward when they locate a significant memory gem about their mothers and move it into memoir. At a recent workshop, I had the pleasure to meet Diane Zelenakova, who wrote the following Mother Memoir, beautifully capturing her mother spirit. This is what Diane said about writing her Mother Memoir, “For decades I have enjoyed the craft of writing, but it was a particular pleasure and an honor to reflect on my pioneering mother’s life and create this piece, which was catalyzed in the midst of several deep conversations we had when she was in her 80s. My motivation in telling her story was both to bring her historical experiences to light and to keep her spirit alive. She was, and remained, a dynamo.” (The attractive woman in Coast Guard uniform in the photo is Genevieve .)    Genevieve Zelenak,

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Dip into Writing Mother Memoir – Become a TellTale Soul

Shrimp Dip Made Classic

Yes, this photo is a basic shrimp dip. . .we’ve revved it up into a recipe of sorts, a classic formula for thinking on one’s feet, to be revealed in Kathy Myers’ creatively short bio-vignette following my remarks. Last week I had the pleasure to lead a mini Mother Memoir workshop at Marlene Cullen’s The Write Spot Blog in Petaluma, CA. I found myself surrounded by a room full of story writers, creative writers who proved to be deep thinkers. There would be no end to the flow of resourceful energy!  The evening promised to be interesting. It was by all accounts. Preparing to write a true and telling tale about one’s Mother is a big deal. Embracing her individuality, even bigger. So when I asked the newly minted TellTale Souls to open-up to looking at “Mom” from the inside out, to drill down to her very essence, before putting pen to paper, I first saw contemplative change reflected in their faces. Then I heard the hum of wheels turning in their minds as they

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Dog Water Free: A Mother-Son Memoir of Consequence

Michael Jay Dog Water Free 2013

TellTale Souls tap emotional memory when writing Mother Memoir, as they discover intimate truths deep within their first relationship—of this you’re well aware. In the same spirit, new author Michael Jay will touch you as he reveals how one mother’s son, Mikee, taps emotional memory in a innocently powerful way. Read on… Meet Joe Black visits The Wonder Years in the true story of DOG WATER FREE, a coming-of-age saga that delivers on its promise. It’s a tale about hope and faith and a young mother’s love that fosters an improbable journey to find emotional truth. It chronicles an adventure by a boy named Mikee that lands a dumbstruck orphan from the unlikely side of Detroit front and center before England’s Queen, America’s Maestro and the first non-Italian Pontiff in more than 400 years.  I’m pleased to welcome debut author Michael Jay to share a few insights about his mom and about how his journey begins. It’s the era of MadMen.  *   *   *  

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Dynamic Memoir Writing Workshop “Keeping Spirits Alive”

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 “KEEPING SPIRITS ALIVE”    The Memoir Writing Workshop with Award-Winning author Lynn Cook Henriksen When:  Saturday, February 2, 2013 • 9 a.m. to Noon Where:  St. Stephen’s Church, 3 Bay View Ave., Belvedere, CA         Email lynn(at) to reserve your place• $35         Who is she—your mother—deep down inside? How will she be remembered? Why does it matter? Lynn Henriksen invites you start writing from the beginning by embracing a special kind of memoir where you’ll capture the character and spirit of the woman who gave you life, as only you can.            On this journey of discovery you’ll find your unique voice, while moving a memory gem into memoir through intriguing prompts, guided activities, partner sharing, and feedback. Find out how truth, emotional memory, and imagination merge with all ‘six’ of your senses to awaken insight and understanding, and why you won’t let HER simply slip away. Lynn has

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Awash in Mom’s Spirit – TellTale Soul Story No. 6

Colette on swing

Photo contributed by Colette: Swinging on Mom’s clothesline. As you lift the cover opening the New Year 2013, I welcome you to enjoy another story excerpt from my guidebook, TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit.  This story begins on page 67 of Act Two in the section entitled “Locating & Orienting,” where I just asked writers to do a “Free-Write” exercise and then let it rest for a day or so before coming back to it. You can easily find the stories I’ve posted from the book by searching “Bio-Vignette No.” It is through trying to make sense of obscurities at a later date that you will be able to more fully encompass the truth. Oftentimes it is just a word, an image, or a feeling that has come over you that is important for you to discuss—talk about it, share it, have some fun with it. The power of certain words is invigorating and, more than once, I have seen the idea for a story

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Best Reading Group Picks for 2012, Bar None

Great Group Read Selections 2012 list of powerful books was just released, and I am thrilled to share it with you.  As past president of Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter,  I’ve had a hand in the selections, as well as helping to foster awareness of our annual signature event, National Reading Group Month, to be held this year on October 6th from 2-4 p.m. at Books Inc, Opera Plaza, San Francisco.  And we’re showcasing two of the authors whose books made the list: Anita Amirrezvani, Equal of the Sun. From the author of the internationally bestselling The Blood of Flowers comes a compulsively readable and gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, intrigue, and love in the royal court of sixteenth-century Iran. Simon & Schuster, Release: June 5, 2012. Selected for 2012 Great Group Reads. I wrote a short review of Anita Amirrezvani's Equal of the Sun, which you can read by clicking on the title. Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist. A debut novel,

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Win the TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir Guidebook at Hibiscus House

Dolly's Hibiscus House

Hibiscus House is giving you the chance to WIN my award-winning guidebook, TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit, just for stopping by and saying hello. What a treat! Dolly invited TellTale Souls and me into Hibiscus House as honored guests for an entire week.  Now, that’s southern hospitality at its finest. The only catch was she wanted me to inspire her friends to write from their hearts short, true tales called Mother Memoir, so they, too, would become TellTale Souls. Since showing people how to write creative memoir is my passion, and the fact that on a moment’s notice I'll  roll out TellTale Souls Method’s unique technique on how to Tap Memory and Write Your Memoir Capturing Character & Spirit, we settled in for an adventure. Everyday is an adventure with Dolly at Hibiscus House. As you can see from the photo, Dolly’s house is a beautiful place in the country, complete with wildlife

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Read the Writing of Independence – Don’t Pin Your Hopes on a Sparkler

Declaration of Independence Image

Good writing will inevitably rise to the top, as with thick, rich cream. The following is an excerpt from double rich cream by men of integrity and grit: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government… It’s the 4th of July brought to us by the one, the only, Declaration of Independence.  I love the idea that our Founding Fathers were willing to die for our country’s independence. We’ve become of nation with too many so-called leaders, hungry for power, who live for the vote regardless of what is right for the people of the

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Care and Feeding of a Memory

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, one of world’s most celebrated French authors of the past century wrote often and in depth about her mother and her succinct, descriptive prose is inspiring. I find thought provoking beauty in the following sentence describing her mother, Sido, “She had a curious way of lifting roses by the chin to look them full in the face.” Do Colette’s words resonate with you? How do you feel about this sentence? The nestled flower? I ask you, a soon-to-be writer of the Mother Memoir, to lift your mother’s chin, if only in thought, and look her full in the face. Go out into a garden, find a rose, and gaze into its depths and wonder at its intricacy and strength, its scent. Look at it in a natural light, but be wary of its thorn and know that without just the right amount of sun and water and nutrients it would not be a thing of beauty. Whether your rose is a little misshapen, touched with mold and mildew, a host for pests, or whether it is bold,

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Publish Your Book: Get Personal with Literary Agents

WNBA Logo black background

  Authors and Writers “Speed-Dating” by the Bay at our 9th Annual Signature EventBack by popular demand:  Keynote Luncheon (see below) MEET-THE-AGENTS & ACQUISITION EDITORSLynn Henriksen, Event Chair, lynn(at) Saturday, March 24th, 2012 • 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.Sinbad’s Restaurant, Pier 2, San Francisco$50 WNBA member, $65 non-member, or $75 at the door(Bonus:  Coffee and “How to Pitch Training” included from 8:00 to 9:00 am)Space is limited (we sold out last year) – REGISTER SOONRegister via PayPal at or mail your check made out to WNBA-SF to P.O. Box 244, Half Moon Bay, CA  94019Keynote Luncheon – 12:30 – $35.00 - Menu selections on our website.Bestselling author Meg Waite Clayton says, “I didn't start out being a novelist, I started out as someone who wanted to be a novelist but had no idea how one went about that - much less any faith in my own talent.” Stay for lunch to rub elbows with the agents and

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