Free Memoir Coaching Opportunity with New 2014 Memoir Contest

by Matilda Butler on February 28, 2014

Writing Prompt LogoPost #187 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompts and Life Prompts – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Want to Become a Bestselling Author in a Successful eBook?

Welcome to News about Women’s Memoirs Contests for 2014
Before we get into the exciting 2014 Memoir Contests we’re experimenting with on Women’s Memoirs, we want to share news of the results of last year’s contests. Ever wonder what happens to contest winners? Last year we had four contests focusing on the seasons of the year.

We received hundreds of entries. After a rigorous review, we chose the best of the inspiring life stories and organized them into a four-volume series SEASONS OF OUR LIVES: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. These award-winning entries have now been published in ebooks, which are available on Amazon.

The books in the series became Amazon Bestsellers #2, #3, #4, #5 in Writing Skills and #20, #21, #24, #28 in Women’s Memoirs almost as soon as they were released and stayed at those ranks for multiple days. We hope you will join us in congratulating all of the talented authors for their fascinating stories in these volumes.

For more information and to purchase, you can use the links below.



Our Women’s Memoirs Contests provide an exciting opportunity for you whether you have ever been published before or not. We are offering you the possibility to become a bestselling Amazon author. Although no one can promise how successful a book will be, we think that based on the ranks of the four volumes of the Seasons of Our Lives anthologies, we can create more bestselling ebooks.

Of course, the real value of entering and winning in our contests is that you have a marvelous chance to share your life story, your message, your life lessons with others.

A 2014 Twist: Enter Our Memoir Contest and Get a FREE Coaching Session

Most contests charge a fee for each entry. There are numerous costs associated with conducting contests so that’s quite reasonable. And at some point in the future, we might also charge fees. But for now, Women’s Memoirs continues to take a different approach. We bear the costs ourselves, and we’re going to do something that we think is unprecedented for our upcoming contest.

So what’s the deal?

Here are the general entry rules and an explanation of how you can get a FREE memoir coaching session.

1. Submit a 750 – 1500 word memoir vignette. Be sure to polish it. We’re not looking for rough drafts.

2. We will read your vignette. IF SELECTED to go into the second round of our contest, we will give you a FREE written coaching session or a telephone coaching session about your contest entry. We believe most of the coaching will be written but reserve the option of a telephone session. We will make suggestions for how you can go deeper into your story and how you can improve your craft of memoir writing.

3. You rework your vignette based on our suggestions from the coaching session and then submit it to us. Given our previous experience with paid coaching clients, we believe that your story will then meet our criteria and be accepted for publication in one of our upcoming five ebooks.

Fun, huh? You get the opportunity for both a free coaching session and for publication in one of our ebooks.

4. What are the forthcoming ebooks? We are developing a series of ebooks based on our award-winning WRITING ALCHEMY: HOW TO WRITE FAST AND DEEP. Currently the book is available in print format only and we have had a flood of requests to publish it as a Kindle ebook. Well, it is the modern way to read a book.

But we’ve decided that rather than putting exactly the same material into an electronic format, we will create five WRITING ALCHEMY WORKBOOKS with:

–content based on our print book
–plus our extensive teaching and coaching experience
–along with fresh examples of Writing Alchemy at work.

The contest entries, both the before-coaching and the after-coaching vignettes, will be the examples in these books. This means you have an opportunity to have both your life story and your writing showcased in these volumes.

5. What topics? All of our previous contests have directed writers to specific topics. And while we have a list of categories this time, we are adding a Wildcard so that you can write about any topic of strong interest to you. We want to support your passion for writing and storytelling.


LIFE TURNING POINT: Write about the one thing that has shaped you the most, that caused you to become the person you are.

FIRST LOVE: Love comes many times in a life. It comes in many shapes and forms. Think back on your loves and write about the first one. Or, if you prefer, write about your current love–what makes it special, what love means at this time in your life.

COMING OF AGE: Write about the time when you first recognized that you had an adult perspective on a situation, or at least thought that you were entering the adult world. It might have been part of the expected maturation or it might have occurred in a scary situation.

EDUCATION: College education is now fully open to women. The latest statistics show that 916,000 women and 685,000 men received college degrees in 2009, the most recent year with available statistics. But women entering college in the 1950s and 1960s often had less access to college and decidedly less access to the full range of majors than their male counterparts. Scholarships were restricted for women. Even families often favored their sons when it came time to pay for college. What types of education experiences did you have? How did the experiences change you? How has your life been changed by the education you had…or didn’t have.

EMPLOYMENT: Tell a young woman today that her employment opportunities are restricted and she’s likely to laugh at you. Of course, she’d be right. But women born in the 1930s and 1940s had few opportunities outside of the three “Ts” — teach, type, take temps. Do you have one work experience that is particularly important to you? A challenge accepted? A job denied you? Growth from your work life? Managing work and home life?

WHEN GOOD GOES BAD OR BAD GOES GOOD: Good isn’t always good and bad isn’t always bad. When we conducted interviews with women for our Rosie’s Daughters: The First Woman to Generation Tells Its Story, Second Edition collective memoir, we had a standard pair of questions: Tell me the three best things that have happened in your life. Tell me the three worst things that have happened in your life. It was amazing how many of the women said, I don’t have three worst things. For example, one woman said, “Even though the divorce was terrible, I can’t say it was a worst thing. I learned so much from it and ended up developing myself as a person. I’d have to say that it was really one of the best things that happened to me.” Reflect on a time when a good or bad situation turned out to embody the opposite element and write about it. Dig deep on this one because it may require you to rethink previous situations in your life.

SUCCESS/FAILURE: Some goals are small and some are large. All are worth achieving. Consider one of your successes in life. Why is it important to you? How has it changed your life? What did you learn from it? What can you pass on to others based on your experience? And while success is always worth a celebration, failure is sometimes the better teacher. I’ve learned much in life when things didn’t go as anticipated or as wanted. Maybe you will choose to write about a failure and what it has meant in your life.

THRIVING IN ADVERSITY: Life is tough. Some aspects of it are beyond our control. Other times we manage to undercut ourselves. The only thing we can do is manage how we deal with the situation. Has there been a serious adversity in your life? Sharing the ways you worked through it, sharing how you thrived in spite of adversity can be a marvelous help to others going through similar situations. It may also be healing for you to look at the ways you did thrive in spite of the adversity.

AGING: When young, life stretches out in front of you and the road seems to go into infinity. But the years pass quickly and you find yourself facing the real consequences of aging. Attitudes, friendships, living circumstances, families, and of course, our bodies change. What kinds of stories come to mind? They might be humorous or sad, ordinary or extraordinary. What counts is the way you write about them.

HEALTH: Every life includes some illness or an accident, minor or major. Illness wants to define us and yet many people don’t let it. What have been your experiences with illness?

FRIENDSHIP: Do you have a BFF? Describe her or him. What brought you two together? What do you share? How do you make each other’s lives better? Maybe the topic of friendship brings to mind a friend from kindergarten or from high school. What happened with the friendship? Have you ever tried to find the person again? Share your memories. Share what you have learned about friendships–both its demands and its rewards.

MARRIAGE/DIVORCE: Sometimes it seems marriage and divorce are two sides of the same coin. Even strong marriages go through times when a separation seems like a good choice. There was a time when women thought there would be a Prince Charming and life would be lived “happily ever after.” A laughable idea today but one that filled our heads when we were young. Write about something significant in your marriage…a turning point…a cherished memory…a low point. Divorce is a part of modern life with about 50 percent of marriages ending this way (actual percentages are influenced by age at time of marriage and other factors). But when you are the one involved in a divorce, the statistics don’t matter. For you it is 100 percent. There is no such thing as a happy or easy divorce although some are much worse than others. What was your experience? What did you learn about yourself from the divorce? Have you and your ex-spouse been able to forgive each other? Define this Marriage/Divorce topic in a way that is meaningful to you.

CHILDREN: A decision to have or to not have children influences an entire life. At the time of decision, you have no way of knowing the consequences. Write about your decision and the unexpected outcomes. If you could go back to an earlier time in your life would you make the same decision? Why? In what way would you be different today if you had made a different choice?

TRAVEL: Stories of trips are hard to develop in memoir because the reader wants to know more than where you went and what you did. The reader wants to know the insights you had or the lessons you learned and the ways in which travel changed you. The writer needs to develop a way of showcasing the different culture and the sights while letting the reader see your unique perspective on the experience.

DEATH: The death of a family member or close friend is one of the most difficult of life experiences. Neither a slow descent nor an abrupt and unexpected end is acceptable. But we have no control over the events that lead to the death. Your emotions are bound to return when you write and you’ll want to find ways to convey them to the reader. Although it will be difficult, you may find you are ready to write about a death that affected you.

SPIRITUAL LIFE: Are you a seeker, someone who searches for that which is larger than you? Spirituality is not necessarily associated with a religion. It is a perspective on life and your role in life. It is knowing that fads and products are not “what it’s all about.” Life is about relationships, about finding peace in nature or in music or art, about finding meaning, and about so much more. Spirituality and a spiritual life mean different things to different people. When you write on this topic, be sure to let your reader understand your perspective.

WILD CARD: The story you want to write for your contest entry may not be on this list or may cross the boundary between two items. That’s fine. Write your memoir vignette and just let us know how you define the Wild Card category.


1 — To even our work load and to give us an opportunity to schedule our coaching, we have three deadlines (and three possible additional ones) on the following dates:

April 30, 2014

June 30, 2014

August 31, 2014

October 31, 2014 (if we are still seeking stories for our ebooks)

November 20, 2014 (if we are still seeking stories for our ebooks)

December 31, 2014 (if we are still seeking stories for our ebooks)

It will be to your advantage to enter sooner rather than later since our schedules may fill up and we reserve the right to not accept entries after August 31, 2014.

2 — Length of your memoir vignette is between 750 – 1500 words

3 — The story should not have been previously published.

4 — We know you will write and carefully edit your entry. If you are part of a writing group, you hope you share it with them. But wait. Before you send us your memoir vignette, stop and read your story aloud. It is amazing how often you will find typos, poor word choices, and confusing sentences at this point. This will lead to the final polishing of your contest entry.

5 — Include your name and a brief 2-4 sentence bio as part of your entry.

6 — Email contest entries to:matilda (at) womensmemoirs (dot) com

7 — The subject line should read: “2014 Contest” followed by the category. For example:

2014 Contest – Friendship


2014 Contest – Wild Card xxx (where xxx is the topic you are writing about.)

We need this Subject Line so that your entry won’t get lost in our email. We can’t promise to spot your entry if you use another subject line. Trust me. Kendra and I get hundreds of emails each day and we don’t want yours to get buried.

8 — Attach your entry to the email as a .doc file or, if you prefer, copy and paste the entry into the email itself. We have some people who do both, just to make sure we can read the entry. Do not attach a PDF as we cannot work with a file in that format.

We’re Ready and Waiting

We’re excited about this new contest and hope you are also. We look forward to receiving your vignettes.

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