September 12, 2015
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
9:15 – 10:00
The Legal and Ethical Issues of Publishing a Memoir
Included in the speech will be the pros and cons of writing memoir, and the pros and cons of publishing a memoir such as defamation, invasion of privacy, and other moral issues. She will discuss the alternatives to publishing a memoir: using events from one’s own life in fiction.
After a career in television, politics, and pharmaceutical development, Sandra Toro published three novels including By Fire Possessed. She has written an additional four novels plus a book-length memoir. Her memoir, Loveknots, won first place in the memoir section of the SWW contest in 2012. She teaches creative writing at UNM Continuing Education.
10:00 – 10:45
In Bluebeard’s Castle: Confronting Difficult Material in Memoir
While memoir is based on memory, memory isn’t always easy or pleasant to access. We’ll look at issues of self-censorship, audience, and using literary technique as a container for volatile material. How does a writer avoid commodifying experience, and stay authentic? A redemptive curve may be usual in memoir, but we’ll explore how to go deeper, involving the world around us as well as our own story.
Miriam Sagan is the author of 25 books, including the memoir Searching for a Mustard Seed: A Young Widow’s Unconventional Story, winner of the Independent Publishers Award for Best Memoir. She founded and runs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College, and has received a Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
11:00 – 11:45
How to Sell Memoirs to Agents and Publishers
Pitching memoirs requires a bundle of distinct strategies. This program will explain proven and innovative ways to optimize agent and publisher interest.
Jeff Herman opened his literary agency in the mid-1980s while in his mid-20s. He has made nearly 1,000 book deals, including many bestsellers. His own books include Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents (more than 500,000 copies sold), and Write the Perfect Book Proposal (coauthored with Deborah Herman). He has presented hundreds of workshops about writing and publishing, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and programs.
12:30 – 1:15
Turning Life into Story
Every life is a story … if you only know how to tell it. Judith Avila will draw on her knowledge of both fiction and non-fiction to delve into the structure of storytelling and to show how even a seemingly banal life can be made compelling.
She will share her techniques for isolating the focal point that defines a character’s life, and will demonstrate how to develop a story where every chapter pulls the reader toward that inevitable focal point. Judy will visit the art of triage—separating a character’s seminal life events from the mundane. She will show how, by selecting and developing the experiences which define a character, authors can effectively reveal a new and convincing slant on history and create a memorable protagonist.
Judith Avila, a graduate of Duke University, discovered writing after working as an air traffic controller and a computer consultant. In 2007, she met her first big story, Chester Nez. Chester, the last of the twenty-nine original Navajo code talkers of WWII, agreed that Judy should write his memoir. She sold the memoir to Penguin’s Berkley Caliber division. The resulting work, Code Talker, published in September 2011, has sold upwards of 85,000 copies and is still going strong. It won the New Mexico Press Women’s Zia Award, the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, and was read on National Public Radio.
1:30 – 2:15
Lynn C. Miller
Find Your Story: Structuring Your Memoir
There are as many ways of constructing a memoir as there are individual stories. This talk explores ways of arranging a story, how plot and structure intertwine, and tools for finding the structure appropriate to the author’s particular narrative. Structures explored include chronological, circular, associative, collage, parallel, and locational.
Lynn C. Miller’s two published novels are The Fool’s Journey and Death of a Department Chair. The novel The Day after Death comes out in 2016 from UNM Press. Co-author of Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir, Lynn has performed the work of many women writers, including Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein. Short pieces have appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Phoebe, Text and Performance Quarterly, Writer’s Forum, and (in press) Chautauqua Journal. She edits the literary journal bosque.
2:30 – 3:15
Memoir: Your Life on Paper
The memoir market is booming—on any given week there are personal stories gracing the New York Times bestseller list. But what defines a memoir, and how can you make yours stand above the rest? Using current bestsellers as examples, Sourcebooks editor Grace Menary-Winefield will explore common characteristics that made them a success, and which categories your memoir could fall into. Who is your audience, and what makes your story different? She’ll also discuss what Sourcebooks has done to make their memoirs successful, and what Sourcebooks looks for in particular when reviewing memoir submissions.
Grace is an Assistant Editor at independent publisher Sourcebooks. Since moving to the USA after three years at London’s Little, Brown Book Group, Grace has worked with the Trade list on engrossing and creative memoirs, along with pop culture tie-ins, quirky gift books, and history. She also contributes to the Landmark list with historical and literary fiction. While all of her projects are exciting, she’s especially interested in stories that cross over into darker, more fantastical concepts. She loves to read true tales of sweeping drama, and those that uncover mysteries and secrets left buried and forgotten.
3:30 – 4:15
The DIY Option: Self-Publishing
Publishing houses big and small can only put out so many memoirs in a given year. For the rest, self-publishing offers a way to reach readers, leave a legacy and (perhaps) make a little money. Amazon, Smashwords and such companies have made it absurdly easy to publish your own book in e-book formats and/or as a paperback. An entire cottage industry has sprung up to help authors produce well-edited books with nice cover art. But how do you get started?
Steve Brewer is the author of 27 books, including the new Duke City crime series written as Max Austin. His first novel, the first of eight stories featuring Albuquerque private eye Bubba Mabry, was made into the 2009 movie Lonely Street. Steve has published books with Pocket, St. Martin’s, Random House/Alibi, UNM Press, Intrigue Press, Bleak House and another one or two you’ve never heard of. He’s also self-published six books, and has self-published his entire backlist as bargain e-books. A former journalist, he teaches part-time in the Honors College at UNM.