We are proud to present our second online summit, this time focused on helping you share your story! The event features bestselling authors and others who will provide practical (and inspiring) advice on why the world needs your story, and how you can best write and share it.
- New York Times Bestselling author Ruth Wariner
- Author Tracy Strauss
- Author Rachael Herron
- Author and writing instructor Marion Roach Smith
- Writer & editor Allison K Williams
- Literary agent Renee C. Fountain
- Author and marketing expert Dan Blank
Lifetime access costs $45. You will receive access to each speaker’s session to watch at your convenience. Click here to purchase:
Session Descriptions and Speaker Bios:
Family and Religion—Two Scary Topics
Ruth Wariner’s memoir, The Sound of Gravel, details her escape at fifteen, with her brother and three younger sisters, from a polygamist cult in Mexico of which her father had been the leader. The book was an instant New York Times Best Seller and was called a “bracing, unforgettable story of survival” by Entertainment Weekly. Ruth will join us to discuss the difficulties of writing about these two emotionally-charged topics and why you should.
RUTH WARINER is an internationally renowned speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Sound of Gravel. At the age of fifteen, Ruth escaped Colonia LeBaron, the polygamist Mormon colony where she grew up, and moved to California. She raised her three youngest sisters in California and Oregon. After earning her GED, she put herself through college and graduate school, eventually becoming a high school Spanish teacher. She remains close to her siblings and is happily married. The Sound of Gravel is her first book.
Telling Your #MeToo Story
It’s vitally important for writers to write and publish #MeToo memoirs. But what are the psychological challenges? What are the technical challenges? What writing techniques can help you portray a #MeToo scene? What should you keep in mind about your audience and about approaching publishers? What can you expect when you publically share your story?
Tracy Strauss, who has published essays on writing #MeToo in Poets and Writers Magazine as well as Ms. Magazine, and whose own #MeToo story is forthcoming from Skyhorse Press, will guide you through this difficult topic with her courage and wit. You, too, can write for healing, for change, for empowerment.
Winner of the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award for nonfiction, Tracy Strauss is currently a writing, literature, and film professor at The New England Conservatory. She previously served as faculty at Boston University, Emerson College, and Boston College. Her article, “#MeToo: Crafting Our Most Difficult True Stories,” is a current feature in the September/October 2018 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. Tracy’s debut #MeToo-themed self-help/relationships cum memoir, I Just Haven’t Met You Yet, will be released by Skyhorse Publications in May 2019.
It Doesn’t Take as Long as You Think
Rachael Herron, author of Fast Draft Your Memoir in 45 Hours and A Life in Stitches, will prove to you that you DO have time to tell your story. She’ll also show you how to figure out what that story is and how to find the best spine for it. No more excuses!
Rachael Herron is the bestselling author of the novel The Ones Who Matter Most (named an Editor’s Pick by Library Journal), as well as more than twenty other novels and memoirs. Her latest non-fiction is Fast-Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours and her debut thriller, Stolen Things, will be coming out from Penguin in 2019 under the name R.H. Herron. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland and she teaches writing in the extension programs at both UC Berkeley and Stanford. She’s proud to be a New Zealander as well as a US citizen and honored to be a member of theNaNoWriMo Writers Board. She is currently a Writer in Residence at Mills College.
Thoughts on Your Story, Beginning to End
Marion Roach Smith, who has taught the craft of memoir to thousands of students both in university classes and online will show you what to consider before beginning your story. She will also examine some special challenges of writing about trauma and tell you what to do if you still don’t have a happy ending.
Marion Roach Smith began working at The New York Times three weeks after graduating college. Four books and countless magazine and radio essays later, the lessons she learned at the newspaper – getting it right and making it short – inform every piece she writes. Most of her work is now in the form of memoir writing, including her most recent book, The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text on Writing & Life, which came out with Grand Central Publishing in 2011.
Other Ways to Tell Your Story
Allison K Williams, who teaches workshops on blogging and essays and who has her own podcast, will show you how to tell your story through these short forms. Even if a book is not your thing—or not your thing, yet—Allison will show you how to get your voice out there and how to build a readership for your story.
Allison K Williams is a memoirist, essay writer and travel journalist, who has written about race, culture and comedy for National Public Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Travelers’ Tales. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, Smokelong Quarterly and Deep South; essays in Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, The Drum and Brevity. Her humor writing was a Mark Twain Award winner; she has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. As a storyteller, Allison has appeared onstage at London’s Theatre Royal and Rich Mix, India’s Filocafe, and is a two-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM.
Publishing Your Story—What New York wants you to Know
Renée Fountain, President of GH Literary, will discuss the potential for memoir, the things to avoid, and what New York is looking for. And as a literary agent seeking memoir, she’ll tell you what she is looking for.
Renee C. Fountain is the President of GH Literary. A publishing industry veteran, she is a former reviewer for Kirkus and New York Journal of Books and was a book scout for The CW Network. During her almost decade-long tenure with major houses such as Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster, Ms. Fountain had the great fortune of working with some of the best writers and illustrators in the publishing world. Additionally, with more than ten years of licensing and branding experience, she has been involved in creating book-related merchandise including iconic favorites such as Raggedy Ann and Nancy Drew, as well as brokering film and television options.
It’s Never Too Soon to Build Your Audience
Beyond a “platform,” you want an authentic connection with readers. What are some ways you can begin to build that relationship long before your book comes out? Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia will show you how such connections can become the most satisfying part of your writing career.
Dan Blank is the founder of WeGrowMedia, where he helps writers and artists share their stories and grow their audience. He is the author of the book Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. He has worked with hundreds of individuals and amazing organizations who support creative people such as Penguin Random House, Sesame Workshop, Hachette Book Group, Workman Publishing, J. Walter Thompson, Abrams Books, Writers House, The Kenyon Review, Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, and many others. Dan’s work has been featured by Poet’s & Writers magazine, the National Endowment for the Arts, Professional Artist magazine, and 99u.
Alison Taylor-Brown is the founder and director of The Village Writing School, a 501c3 nonprofit. The school is an independent creative writing program, located in beautiful northwest Arkansas. Its mission is to help writers tell their stories in a more readable, publishable way.
She holds an MFA in fiction and once sold a novel about her great-grandfather to Simon and Schuster. In addition to teaching at various universities, she started a literacy council and an ESL school; started, grew and sold her own company; worked in global aid and education; and served on various foundations.
She lives in a medieval town in Italy and is working on a novel about the 14th-century writer Boccaccio. She teaches her own writing program online entitled: Everything You need to Write a Beautiful Story.