News: Your Very Own (Memoir) Advice Columnist Plus More News

by Matilda Butler on April 5, 2016

catnav-news-active-3Post #120 – Memoir Writing News – Matilda Butler

News #1: Dear Pamela, Your Very Own Memoir Advice Columnist

Pamela Jane, Memoir Advice ColumnistI’m sure you’ve enjoyed Pamela Jane’s blog posts. I love her tips and consider her to be the Tip Queen of Memoirs. And now she is taking her posts in a new direction designed to be of specific help to you. She came up with the idea of answering your memoir questions. Just like Dear Abby or Dear Ann Landers, you can pose all those questions that plague you or that you’re worried about or that have aroused your interest or that just plain bug you. We already have some questions in but are eager to hear from more of you–from all of you. We want to know your questions and Pamela will give you her best advice in her new monthly column — Dear Pamela. No question is too small. No question is too big.

The rules are few and simple:

1. Send your question to:

2. The Subject Line must be: DEAR PAMELA We don’t want your questions to get lost in all the email we get.

3. The question can be of any length. Just be sure to include enough details that Pamela can respond to your specific concerns.

4. You can use a pseudonym if you want. But be sure to give us a valid email in case Pamela needs to get back to you for clarification. We won’t publish your email address.

5. Pamela is not a lawyer so don’t ask for legal advice nor construe what she says as representing a legal opinion.

6. We reserve the right to only publish questions that are relevant to memoir writing and memoirists.

Be sure to come back on April 19 when Dear Pamela answers the first question. I don’t know which one she will write about but below are our first three questions that we already have. Be sure to get your question onto her list as soon as possible.

Question: Dear Pamela: I thought I would wait until my parents had both died before I wrote about my dysfunctional family. But now my sister and my brother both object to the stories I want to tell. What should I do? I don’t want to destroy the tenuous peace we have.

Question: Dear Pamela: I want to write a memoir about my sister who died of cancer two years ago. She was an incredible person who did much in her short life. I will always admire her. But I want this to be a memoir and I’m not sure how to do this. For example, is this her story or my story about her? Can you help me? I need some clarity before I get started.

Question: Dear Pamela: The book I’m writing might be called a spiritual memoir as it highlights how my many physical illnesses have lead to spiritual growth. What aspects of the illnesses should I avoid? I don’t want to turn people off.

News #2: Rewards of Entering Contests

I recently received two emails from women who had previously won WomensMemoirs contests. The first note is from Jude Walsh Whelley responding to the news that material she entered in our First Paragraph Contest will be in a new in-progress book about effective ways to open a memoir or novel. Here’s what she wrote:

“What a delight to open your email and find this news. I had to go and look to find out which paragraph I had submitted as I had waffled around about what to send. When I found it, Intersection Lesson, it really put a smile on my face. I continued to work with that piece and in March it was published as an essay, Intersection, at the literary magazine “Mothers Always Write” <UPDATE 2023: Unfortunately the literary magazine Mothers Always Write no longer exists. >. So your competition set me on a path that ended with a published essay. Thank you!

“And now additional thanks for including the opening paragraph in your upcoming book.”

The second email that arrived at almost the same time came from Marie Mound. Her award-winning memoir vignette, Sharing Death, was published earlier this year in our anthology Tales of Our Lives: Fork in the Road, a Kindle ebook that became a #1 bestseller for the first week after its introduction and stayed on the top 100 bestsellers list for a month. Marie Mound wrote:

I want to let you know that my essay, “Sharing Death”, that you published in Tales of Our Lives, won in the New Mexico Press Women’s contest, in the category of “essay, chapter or section in a book.”

If Women’s Memoirs had not published the essay I would not have been able to enter it in the contest. Thanks so much.

What I love about these two emails is that they show the power of entering contests, working and reworking materials, and putting yourself and your writing out there. I hope these notes encourage you to submit your work to contests. And, once you have won, use that opportunity to open new paths.

Congratulations to both Jude and Marie.

More About DEAR PAMELA, Our Memoir Advice Columnist

Thinking about the question you want to pose to Dear Pamela? Great. We’re looking forward to receiving lots of questions. In the meantime, I thought you might like to see a few of the reviews of Dear Pamela’s new memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story.

“With passion and compassion, Pamela Jane takes us masterfully through her story of a lifelong writer struggling to emerge.” —Deborah Heiligman, author, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, a National Book Award Finalist

“…a richly empowering memoir … highly recommended for anyone who has ever struggled with identity or the direction in life she wished to travel. This is a fine, five-star read!” – Story Circle Reviews

“…incisive, funny, and touchingly candid evidence of the power of the stories we tell ourselves.” —Howard Rheingold, author, The Virtual Community and Net Smart

“…a harrowing story that invites the reader to experience the thrill and danger of the Sixties from a place of safety and acceptance. It’s the story of hundreds of thousands of women; our lives were huge experiments.” —Tristine Rainer, Director, Center for Autobiographic Studies, author, The New Diary and Your Life as Story

“…a memoir that will touch the life of every woman who has ever questioned who she is, where she is going, and what the future holds.” – Matilda Butler, author, Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story

“…a gem, a well-written and powerful memoir. I highly recommend it.” – Sherry Meyer, author

“Her prose reads like poetry and her imagination is like magic!” – Jacopo della Quercia, author, The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy and License to Quill

“…[this memoir] is an inducement to all writers who aren’t afraid to take their past experiences and use them towards the future of their dreams…” – a comfychair

“Jane’s memoir gives us the opportunity to go into her heart and mind, behind the flashy images of the Woodstock and hippies of the Sixties.” – Jerry Waxler, author The Memoir Revolution

“By crafting a story that we’re unable to put down, by choosing words that dance across each page, by providing a home in every sentence, Jane distinguishes herself from mediocre or even good storytellers and shows that she is a great writer.” – Linda Appleton Shapiro, author She’s Not Herself

“…I started and finished [Jane’s memoir] in a single sitting, due entirely to the magical way she weaves her story…this is a book not to miss. ” Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl and Lighting Candles in the Snow.

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