Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"First Person Arts" Memoir Contest: Deadline June 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA – First Person Arts is going across to the nation to find the best videos, photographs and stories that define how individuals, families, and communities are managing during these hard times. The contest, First Person America: In These Hard Times, invites artists to document how this generation of Americans is coping with one of the hardest economic periods since the Great Depression.

This contest is also open to Canadians, but please note that the setting of the submitted video, photograph or story must be a U.S. one.

Try clicking here for more details: First Person Arts press release

or go to the contest website, www.hardtimes.firstpersonarts.org:

In These Hard Times Memoir Contest

"Memoir (and)" Memoir Contest: Next Deadline August 15, 2009

The following is a note from Memoir (and), a literary journal based in Sausalito, California, about the writing contest affiliated with its Spring-Summer 2010 issue:

Hello all of you at Days Road Writers' Workshops,

Our contest information is as follows:

The Memoir (and) Prize for Memoir in Prose and Poetry
The Memoir (and) Prize for Graphic Memoir
Four prizes awared up to $500.

Memoir (and) reading period for Spring+Summer 2010 (Issue 6): 5/1/09 -
8/15/09. Accepting traditional and experimental prose, poetry, graphic
memoir, narrative photography, lies, and more. All submissions eligible
for contest entry. Submit online or mail to: Memoir (and), P.O. Box 1398,
Sausalito, CA 94966.

Guidelines at www.memoirjournal.com



The Memoir (and) Prizes for Memoir in Prose or Poetry are awarded to the
most outstanding prose or poetry memoir—traditional, nontraditional or
experimental—drawn from the reading period.

Grand Prize for Memoir in Prose or Poetry

* $500 cash award
* Publication in print and online
* Six copies of the journal

Second Prize for Memoir in Prose or Poetry

* $250 cash award
* Publication in print and online
* Six copies of the journal

Third Prize for Memoir in Prose or Poetry

* $100 cash award
* Publication in print and online
* Three copies of the journal

The Memoir (and) Prize for Graphic Memoir is awarded to the most
outstanding graphic memoir drawn from the reading period.

Prize for Graphic Memoir

* $100 cash award
* Publication in print and online
* Six copies of the journal

Thanks for the consideration, and please e-mail your response to submissions@memoirjournal.com.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Mariel E. Valerio
Memoir (and)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life Writers Ink: A Fledgling Writers Group Spreads Its Wings

by Cheryl, Anahita, Ruth, Gail and Mary

Our group of five women first came together as participants in Allyson Latta’s online memoir writing courses. Compelled by the support, encouragement and professional critiquing we learned through those courses, we didn’t want to let go. The Memoir Writers Social Allyson organized in September 2008 gave us the opportunity to meet face-to-face for the first time.

When Allyson posted an article on www.wordsalive.ca, “Start Your Own Writers Group,” I (Cheryl Andrews) was inspired and forwarded it on to Anahita Printer Nepton, Gail Rudyk, Mary McIntyre and Ruth Zaryski Jackson.

"I know that workshops … can provide inspiration while they’re going on, but that that inspiration can disappear in a poof once they walk out the door (real or virtual). A writers group is the logical next step ..." (Allyson Latta 9/30/2008)

It certainly was the logical next step for us, and the article became the basis for our group Guidelines. We took them to a fairly comprehensive, yet informal and relaxed level and haven’t referred to them since. The extensive discussion process we undertook about the structure of our writing group was the critical element.

We came up with a name, "Life Writers Ink." Mary (lovingly) refers to us as the Lifers.

We held our inaugural meeting January 25th, 2009. We prefer Sunday afternoons, once a month and take turns hosting. As Allyson Alumni we have slipped into the writing group format with very few wrinkles!

"Every meeting reinforces my respect for our writing differences and how we learn from each other… I gain so much from your ideas. You energize me again to do more heavy lifting with my pen." (Mary McIntyre)

During our meetings we read our pieces to each other, critiquing upon request, socialize, discuss and swap books we’ve read recently, share news about upcoming literary events and contests, cheer and applaud successes and pry open the door when one of us hits the creative wall.

"I personally enjoy the side discussions that come up about the latest books we have read and information about any calls for submissions." (Gail Rudyk)

Life Writers Ink is about discovering the courage to explore the furthest reaches of our creative sides and providing encouragement as we move toward publishing. Writing memoir brought us together, and the support we get from the group has provided the incentive to investigate other genres. I’m playing with fiction, Ruth has ventured into the realm of poetry, and Gail, humorous vignettes about life and living. Anahita is sharing poignant passages from the journal she kept while watching over her dying father. Mary has found the energy to take on a major memoir project about where she really grew up: the family cottage.

" … (our) varied styles … keep our creative energies up, fueling new ideas/stories … suggestions are fodder that provides … options and directions that we may not have thought about, whether we use them or not. The variety of styles … helps to keep the blinders off so we are free to grow, develop and express ourselves beyond our abilities." (Anahita Printer Nepton)

Email helps us extend the encouraging borders of Life Writers Ink. Between meetings fresh pieces get circulated and critiqued, ideas tossed out for input, and progress, roadblocks and angst shared. No one is allowed to go silent for too long.

There’s something extraordinary about the camaraderie of our group. The comfort level with being honest and open as well as supportive and critical is way beyond where a newly formed group might be.

"I … feel supported by the group to move forward and overcome my lethargy… our writing differences stir our creativity and make us better writers. Thanks for your encouragement with the submissions." (Ruth Zaryski Jackson)

We take courses and participate in workshops. We created this writing group and read voraciously, but ultimately we each have to spend the time writing, the best we can, alone in a room, or "… ass in chair," as Margaret Atwood says.

We laugh a lot. We work hard. We are having great fun, and we are all writing!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

News: Read my interviews in "The Writers Den: Conversations on Memoir" ... and get reminiscing to enter Words Alive's Memoir Writing Contest

Two bits of news ...

The Writers Den: Conversations on Memoir

I've had wonderful feedback so far on my blog's newest feature, an evolving section called "The Writers Den," which includes my interviews with a number of memoir writers (commercially published as well as self-published), and others with thoughts or advice on the genre. Read interviews with authors David Gilmour, Richard Scrimger, Howard Engel, Catherine Gildiner, Maggie de Vries, and Robert Ward, among others; literary agent Marie Campbell, author and self-publishing coach Stacey Lynn Newman, and American psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker (who studies the healing potential in writing about difficult life events); as well as thought-provoking essays by Blanche Howard and Tilya Gallay Helfield, and helpful tips on memoir writing from authors Lawrence Hill and Beth Powning ... and much more.

I'd be happy to hear your impressions of this new section, and also your input as to what other sorts of interviews you'd like to see here in future.

Words Alive Literary Festival Memoir Writing Contest 2009

The annual Words Alive Literary Festival, held in September in Sharon, Ontario, just north of Toronto, is hosting its first mid-year memoir writing contest. The deadline is June 5, 2009, and contest guidelines can be found at

Words Alive Memoir Writing Contest

(or go to www.wordsalive.ca and click on the icon for "Memoir Writing Contest")

I've been asked to join the team of judges, which includes Blanche Howard, Allison Howard, Beth Powning and Elizabeth Yeoman.

There's still time to polish up your gem of a story and submit it! Please read the guidelines carefully.

The 2009 Words Alive festival will take place September 20, so mark it on your calendar and watch the festival website for updates on the lineup of outstanding authors, poets and others who'll present there. It's a not-to-be-missed event for readers and writers of all ages!

Workshopper Beatriz Duran publishes her first editorial in the Toronto Star

BEATRIZ DURAN, 34, who took part in my North York Public Library series of memoir writing workshops last spring, is pleased to announce that she has joined the Toronto Star Community Editorial Board. Beatriz hails from Merida, Mexico, and now lives in Toronto. She recently published her first guest editorial (byline Beatrice Duran), "Thousands Take That Leap of Faith," and kindly sent me the link.

Here is her message:


Hola Allyson,

Hope this message finds you well. I know you have a new workshop coming up. I am sure it will be a great experience for those attending, just like it was for me.

I wanted to share a piece of news ... this past fall I joined the Toronto Star Community Editorial Board. Being part of the Editorial Board has been a great experience. The best part is that anybody can apply. The Star then appoints 12 participants who serve for 1 year. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

I was invited to contribute a column on a topic of my choice, so I decided to share part of my experience living here as an immigrant.

Here's the link:


Thousands Take That Leap of Faith

I've been writing since I was 18, but it was not until now that I decided to get "serious" about it, partly because my moving here caused me to question my ability to communicate in another language.

Participating in your workshop helped me overcome that "fear" and gave me the confidence to write about my experiences. It also made me think that perhaps the best time to start writing your memoirs is the present. After all, the past is not always that far away :)

Feel free to share this on your blog, it might encourage other writers.

Warm regards,