Attention Memoir Writers: Five Great Tips for Holiday Giving

by Matilda Butler on December 14, 2012

catnav-alchemy-activePost #67 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Here are 5 Great Tips for Holiday Giving

All week we’ve mailed out a series of holiday tips as well as ideas for holiday gifts to give or ask Santa to bring you. These gifts were available at a special price for one-day only. The orders have been coming in and Kendra is mailing out the last ones today.

Yesterday, I called Kendra and we decided to offer all five gifts for this weekend only. Then that’s it. All items return to their full price. In case you missed our emails or were just too busy to take advantage of these incredible prices, we’ve combined them all into this one blog post.

‘Tis the Season to:


If you write each day, congratulations. To put a twist on Woody Allen’s famous quote: Showing up is 80 percent of every effort. If you’ve got a good rhythm going, you may be hesitant to break the pattern. But holidays can be a busy and often stressful time of year. Rather than feeling guilty when events cut into your writing time, view this as a brief and well-deserved break from your writing routine. This holiday season, recharge your writing batteries with some relaxing, unstructured time and start fresh in the new year. 

Still only writing occasionally? That’s all right, too. Don’t beat yourself up. Openly acknowledge that December is not going to be your writing month. Then on December 31, create a writing to-do list that helps you see how to carve time out of each week to accomplish your writing goals in 2013.


If you want a special gift to spark your imagination and creativity throughout the coming year, try using StoryMap: The Neverending Writing Prompt as your inspiration for writing brief stories, character studies and more. StoryMap supplies ideas…you apply the creativity. 

On Sale for December 14-16 Only
And we have a special price for you. StoryMap, regularly $19.97 plus shipping, is only $12.97 with FREE SHIPPING. A perfect holiday gift for yourself or a friend. Get StoryMap today .      


While it is important to give yourself the gift of time, it is equally valuable for a memoir writer to give the gift of time to others.

So consider this idea. A family gathering is often part of the holiday season. It can be joyful or stressful or a bit of both. Here’s one way to protect yourself, to make someone else feel special, and to move forward in your writing with more in-depth knowledge of your family. 

(a) Choose one person who will be at the gathering. This might be a relative or even a close friend. 

(b) Spend the majority of the party time with this person. 

(c) Take a recorder or small notebook and pen so that you can record and then easily later recall what was said. 

(d) Go prepared with a series of questions. Without a list, you’ll be thinking about the next question rather than listening, really listening, to what the person is saying. When you really listen, you’ll find some unexpected follow-up questions that just may take you to a new level of understanding.

(e) Tell the person that you want to know more about her (or him). Then with the person’s permission, ask away. You might consider talking to the person ahead of time and say that you would like to find out more about their life when you see her/him at the family gathering. Some questions may not yield much, so have more than you think you’ll be able to cover. Start with a few “easy” questions so that the person gets used to talking with you. And that little recorder? Don’t worry. Within five to ten minutes, neither of you will even notice it is there.

(f) The other person will love the attention and you just may end up with a better knowledge of the history of your family or more stories for your writing. Be sure to lavish thanks on the person and offer to share your notes or any story you write based on this information. 


If you want to give the person a little thank you gift for their time, we suggest our Rosie the Riveter Zipper Pull or Rosie Employment Badge/Collar Pin. Rosie stands for strength, courage, and empowerment. Especially if you interview a woman, we know she’ll love wearing Rosie. Either of these make great gifts.

(By the way, Kendra and I wear the Rosie zipper pulls on all our winter vests and jackets. They are great conversation starters when you’re out.)

On Sale for December 14-16 Only
Regularly $10.
On Sale for $9.00 with FREE SHIPPING


The five senses–taste, touch, sight, smell and sound–are powerful tools for triggering memories. Let them transport you to thoughts of holidays past as you relax and remember in the scents of time.

SUGGESTION: Remember a favorite family food and then prepare it. Drink in the details of each step — the sight of each ingredient, the feel as you touch an ingredient, smell the scents as they waft up from the oven or stove and fill the kitchen, listen to the sounds of the pots, pans and utensils as you wash up, and finally taste the memory-laden dish. Recall the first time you had this food and the person who prepared it. When you sit to eat, focus on it and don’t let yourself be distracted by a television program or even music. Use the moments to reflect on and to evoke a time past.


Treat your senses every time you sit down to write with one of our delightful green teas…try our Tea of Refreshing Memories (organic green tea with just the right amount of organic mint and rosemary) or Tea of Unfolding Success (the most delightful organic green tea with organic rosebuds–amazing).

These special organic teas, mixed just for Women’s Memoirs, make unique gifts for yourself as well as for others. 

On Sale for December 14-16 Only:
Tea of Refreshing Memories: Regularly $17.00; Sale Price $13.99 (FREE Priority Mail Shipping)

Tea of Unfolding Success: Regularly $17.00; Sale Price $13.99 (FREE Priority Mail Shipping)


Give the best gift ever. Even as you take a break from your regular writing routine, find one day just for yourself and use it to craft a personal gift for your family. Don’t shop, cook, wrap gifts or decorate. Take one whole day and write one of your treasured family stories. Here are the steps:

(a) Start with a brief two to four sentence synopsis of the story just so that you are focused.

(b) Write the name and physical description of each person in the vignette,

(c) Followed by the emotional states of the people in the story.

(d) Try telling the story just in dialogue. You may not end up using all the dialogue, but it will help place you into the dynamics of the story.

(e) Then sharpen your memory of the story by recalling all the sensory detail — sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Make lists of these. Usually, at this step, you’ll find yourself remembering the story in more detail than you had imagined.

(f) Before crafting the story gift, write all you recall about the time and the place in the family tale. Not everyone will remember the story as well and these details can help secure your story for future generations.

(g) Now you’re at the final and most fun step. You have all the elements of great storytelling–and great gift giving–in front of you. Write the story. Read all your notes and let the story come together from these different perspectives. You don’t have to use everything that you wrote in preparation for this story gift…just the best of what is there.

If you happen to have any photos that go along with the story be sure to include them. But don’t worry if you have no photos as your sensory-rich descriptions and dialogue will be the pictures and the color of the story. Print a copy of the completed story for each person in the family or each person who will be at a family gathering. Roll the paper and secure it with a holiday ribbon. If there are enough people, you might put all the story rolls in a decorated basket and hand them out during the party. This is guaranteed to be the best gift ever.


A couple of years ago, a friend of ours used our Rosie the Riveter Legacy bandanas as inspiration for stories she wrote for each woman in her family. Along with a bandana, she gave a personal story that explained how she saw each woman…her strength, courage and commitment to her own personal sense of empowerment.

You might like to do the same thing for the women who will receive your story gift. We’re even in the gift giving mood ourselves.

On Sale for December 14-16 Only

Our Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandana: Regularly $18

Sale Price $15 (with FREE shipping)


Although it’s long been said that it’s better to give than receive, this just might prove to be the exception. While capturing our stories in print is rewarding, getting there can sometimes be daunting. Finding just the right words, the right way to pull ideas together, creating an introduction that will captivate readers, and all the other tasks, is work. That’s why at, we believe in making the work as pleasurable as it is productive. To that end we created three great kits.


The [Ultimate] Memoir Writer’s Kit.

As we list all that you receive, you’re going to see why this may be the one gift that you’ll want to keep for yourself. Or tell Santa you’ve been extra nice this year and put this “want” at the top of your list. Here’s what we put together for you and the special writers (a mother? a daughter? a good friend?) on your gift list:

Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep. The book that takes your writing to the next level by teaching you to build on what you already know about writing and draw out the elements that create stories people want to read. ($24.95 value)

The [Essential] Women’s Memoir Writing Workshop: 21 Steps from Planning to Publication. Get almost 8 hours of instruction in 21 lessons that serve as you step-by-step blueprint for organizing, writing and promoting your memoir. ($109 value)

Membership in the Association for Writing Excellence (AWE). When you register your copy of Writing Alchemy you become a Charter Member of AWE, which gives you access to exclusive webinars, audio interviews and product discounts. Lock in your membership while it’s still free with Writing Alchemy. ($99 value)

Thai Silk Journal with Reusable Cover, made exclusively for Women’s Memoirs. It’s handwoven and hand sewn and fits over a standard composition book (included) so you can use it over and over again…you’ll be writing and journaling in elegance ($30 value)

The Memoir Writer’s Mug. The rosemary and other garden-inspired illustrations decorating this mug are designed exclusively for Women’s Memoirs. ($16 value)

Premium Organic, Unfolding Green Tea. Stimulate your senses with 1/4 pound of healthful organic green tea that will fill you with antioxidants and flavonoids to keep you strong and writing. Pour hot water over the small hand-rolled balls and watch them unfold, just as your stories will. ($10.50 value)

Writing Alchemy Coaching Class. Jumpstart your use of Writing Alchemy or get advanced training in the subject of your choice (Character Development, Emotions and Affect, Dialogue, Five Senses or Time/Place). Through 3 sessions, Matilda and Kendra guide and critique your writing as you become serious about your memoir. Choose one of our 6 coaching classes. (Sold separately for $150 – $297 each)

Price for The [Ultimate] Memoir Writer’s Kit is $249.95 ($429.45 – $586.45 value) Currently on holiday sale (December 14-16 only) for just $169.95

Or, if you don’t want the personal training right now, give (or ask your family for) the gift of The [Essential] Memoir Writer’s Kit. You get all the same wonderful writing tools that are included in the [Ultimate] Kit minus the coaching class.

Price for The [Essential] Memoir Writer’s Kit is $99.95 ($289.45 value) Currently on holiday sale (December 14-16 only) for just $69.95

Or, maybe you are — or know — a writer who dreams of writing her memoir. Give the gift of The [Fundamental] Memoir Writer’s Kit. This includes Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep ($24.95 value), The [Essential] Women’s Memoir Writing Workshop: 21 Steps from Planning to Publication ($109 value), and membership in the Association for Writing Excellence ($99 value).

Price for The [Fundamental] Memoir Writer’s Kit is $69.95 ($232.95 value) Currently on holiday sale (December 14-16 only) for just $49.95.

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