San Francisco Writers Conference 2012

2012 SFWC

A CELEBRATION OF CRAFT, COMMERCE, AND COMMUNITY! This headline for The San Francisco Writers Conference 2012 will provide exactly that and more. Click the link above for the line-up of inspiring bestselling authors, legendary agents, writing intensive workshops, classes on craft galore, and to register.As The Story Woman and a TellTale Soul, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be. Hope to see you sometime during the 5 day extravaganza, February 15-20, 2012.

[Read More]

Extolling the virtues of mom in memoir? Not for everyone.

Reversible Skirit Holland

The point of writing The Mother Memoir can be misunderstood. The guest post, below, by Laura McHale Holland, “Some Spirits Are Better Left Alone,” provides an opening for me to add some clarity.  The Mother Memoir is not meant to be about extolling the virtues of or praising the woman you call mother, although mother’s positive merits are frequently in play when writing about a healthy relationship.  In any case, a Hallmark greeting card The Mother Memoir is not. Rather it’s asking you to look at mom from the inside out and learn more about her, as well as yourself, from a new perspective.I ask people to write one short story to capture the intrinsic character, whether positive or negative, of their mothers to keep spirits alive. In the case of difficult relationships, people can use what they learn from mindfully writing about their flawed connection with mom to honor themselves. Understanding ensues.The Mother Memoir is about honoring the relationship with the woman who

[Read More]


Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic is a novel that reads like a memoir of a thousand voices. Julie Otsuka's writing is unique and lyrical, and the book is a treasure of souls. One that I couldn’t put down. When I came to the end of it, I wasn’t ready to let these Japanese mail-order brides and their families go. I realized there are Buddhas in many an attic waiting to be found. This is a hauntingly beautiful story made even more moving as the women appeared to be at once one and all. The universality and perseverance of women who are undervalued and the lessons on the female spirit are moving. The Story Woman highly recommends this book. It makes a beautiful gift.It may inspire you to become a TellTale Soul and write about a woman you know - as in the Mother Mother, where women are at once one and all.

[Read More]

What Does Your Protagonist Want? (Guest Post)

Love Made of Heart

By Guest Blogger Teresa LeYung-Ryan, aka “Writing Career Coach & Manuscript Consultant Teresa” “If you’re writing a novel or memoir, what does your protagonist want?” “What are your themes and who are your archetypes?” “If you’re writing a how-to book, what are the issues?” “Do you want to build your platform to attract agents, publishers, and fans/readers?” These are the questions I ask when writers hire me as their coach. For many writers, the first question (“What does your protagonist want?”) is not an easy one to answer. What does your main character want when the story opens? As the story moves forward? For memoir authors, the protagonist is the Self. You the author lived your story and you know the outcome; now is the chance to engage readers via story-telling techniques and show them what you wanted and how you went about getting (or not getting) what you wanted. For novel authors, oftentimes the protagonist (or another

[Read More]

Memorial Day Poppies 5 cents with a Song

CA Poppy

I feel fortunate to have clear memories of what Memorial Day signifies. When I was a kid growing up in North Dakota, this was a day where everyone I knew actually did commemorate the fallen American soldiers, who had died for our country as far back as the Civil War. Flowers were placed on the graves and memorials of these brave men and women to honor the fact that they made the ultimate sacrifice. A huge amount of patriotism was displayed as flags waved in most every yard and place of business, our national anthem – The Star Spangled Banner – boomed from horn and drum across our great land, and the smoke from charred hot dogs (gotta love ‘em) blanketed picnic grounds the country over.Thousands and thousands of bright red, paper poppies were sold all over the United States in support of World War II Veterans. These crinkly poppies went for a 5¢ piece, and were worn with pride by all Americans. To us kids, they were like badges of honor. Perhaps this is another reason why the

[Read More]

Who’s Who?

I’m nobody! Who are you?Are you – Nobody -  Too?Then there’s the pair of us!Don’t tell! They’d advertise – you know! How dreary – to be – Somebody!How public – like a frog –To tell one’s name – the livelong June –To the admiring bog!                         Emily Dickinson

[Read More]

Mother Memoir: a Man’s Story

I want to thank Will Meecham for writing his story for my TellTale Souls collection. Will Meecham's story needs no introduction. It is complete: Perhaps it was the last time I saw her. We lived in a remodeled house on Woodcrest, with freshly painted clapboard siding, and a lawn that always looked like it needed mowing. Since our life there lasted less than a year, I surprise myself by remembering the name of the street. Lined by lookalike houses placed as regularly as railroad cars, Woodcrest had nothing to distinguish it from countless other suburban streets around Detroit. My mother’s father had built a handful of those postwar subdivisions, so with a bit of effort he had his construction company redesign our little gray tract house.  As a result, it differed from all the others, with two extra bedrooms and a garage converted into a playroom. But if you looked at the house from the street, it still appeared identical to the rest.  God forbid we look different from the

[Read More]

The Literary Hinterland Between Fiction and Nonfiction

Harrison Solow 2

Pushcart Prize winner, Harrison Solow’s powers of thought and prowess in writing are laudable to the degree that bringing her essay to you today is an honor and an adventure, both thrilling and expansive. The piece you are about to read was not digested immediately by me – only occasionally does the veil lift for me to glimpse Solow’s sensitivity toward liminality, but it is something that I am determined to catch hold of for myself, even bits of it, one illuminating rendition at a time. Now take your turns, as writers, to coax its significance into your worlds.  Harrison’s latest book, Felicity & Barbara Pym, about writing, reading and what it means to be truly educated ( has just been released in the UK with stellar reviews and is available to those outside the UK from The Book Depository ( ) which offers free international shipping.  Liminality In a letter to a friend, not long ago, I wrote this

[Read More]

2010 WNBA Award Winner

Masha Hamilton has been named this year's recipient of the Women's National Book Association WNBA Award, which is presented to "a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and allied arts, and who has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation." Hamilton is a novelist and former foreign correspondent. Her fiction includes 31 Hours and The Camel Bookmobile. As a journalist, Masha worked for the Associated Press, reporting from the Middle East, and for the Los Angeles Times and NBC/Mutual Radio, reporting on the Soviet Union during its final years. In 2009, she launched the Afghan Women’s Writing Project "to foster creative and intellectual exchange between Afghan women writers and American women authors and teachers." WNBA president Mary Grey James praised "the depth of Masha’s commitment to the world of literacy and books beyond her own career. She is a sterling example of

[Read More]

Playwrights Intensive Retreat: Vision & REVISION

Jane Wenger 4-2010

Jane Wenger is at it again - I wish I could go, even though I'm not a playwright. Everyone learns so much for Jane, a teacher with more than vision... and she's fun, too! If you can possibly go to Assisi to study with her, don't miss this opportunity. Vision and REVISION  Jayne Wenger, Instructor                                                                                                      ASSISI, ITALY  August 6 - August 19, 2010 Live and write in a 12th century town in the heart of Umbria with a community of artists from around the world. The workshop will focus on plays that are in process, with emphasis on development and analysis of the script.  Writers will hear a scene or monologue daily and will receive individual dramaturgy from the instructor. In-depth and practical, this is a unique opportunity to concentrate your creative energy.       Artists

[Read More]