Memoir Redux

Last weekend’s memoir conference, sponsored by the Writers of Southern Nevada, drew more than 160 attendees to listen to five speakers covering all aspects of the memoir writing process. I learned at least one new thing from each speaker. Here are some kernels of wisdom:


Linda Joy Myers – Author of “The Power of Memoir”

“Memoir writers are often the black sheep of the family.”

“This isn’t autobiography. Your truth is your truth.”

“In writing our memoirs, we become witnesses to ourselves.”


Jack Sheehan – Best-selling author, biographer, interviewer

The art of the interview:

  1. Know your subject, do your research
  2. Choose a comfortable, quiet place (the subject’s home is ideal)
  3. Always ask softball questions early
  4. Avoid putting the tape recorder in the subject’s clear line of sight
  5. Always get permission to follow-up with additional questions by phone or e-mail
  6. Establish a deadline you know you can beat
  7. It’s not an “interview,” it’s an “engaging conversation”
  8. Set time parameters


BJ Robbins – Literary agent

What do lit agents look for above all else? The writing. Market your memoir like you would fiction.

Agents and publishers want you to have a “platform,” a unique way of positioning, marketing and selling your books.


Oksana Marafioti” – Author of “American Gypsy”

“The things you don’t want to talk about are the things you should put in your book.” “Dialogue and active verbs are the musculature of your narrative.”


Mary-Ann Tirone Smith – Best-selling author and memoirist

“A memoir is a remembered life.”


“The reader should get a sense that everything is happening now with no guarantee of a desired outcome.” “Reading a memoir allows you to try on someone else’s life.”

“As a memoir writer, your fingerprints should be all over the manuscript but not visible.”

“Strive for a compelling narrative voice and brilliant visual detail.”

Good stuff. Easily worth the price of admission. And lunch wasn’t bad either.