Stories From the Heart
Friday, April 11
9am Registration opens [Highland Lakes Foyer]
9am Exhibitors Room opens (hours: 9am-4pm, 5:30-7:30pm) [Guadalupe/Barton Creek Rooms]
9-11:30am Heart-to-Heart: 15-minute coaching sessions with experts in writing, editing, marketing. Sign-ups required (March 11-April 1).
[Lake LBJ Room]
noon-1:45pm Optional Pre-Conference Workshop "The Three Stages of Memoir Writing" with Linda Joy Myers (not included in your registration; extra fee for this workshop)
[Lake LBJ Room]
2-3:45pm Optional Pre-Conference Workshop "What's It All About?" with Leila Levinson (not included in your registration; extra fee for this workshop)
[Lake LBJ Room]
4-5pm Conference Welcome session: Judy Whelley, SCN President
[Lake Austin Room]
5:30-7:30pm Dutch-treat dinner, Wyndham Hotel restaurant
6pm Silent Auction opens [Lady Bird Lake Room]
7:30pm Sarton Memoir Award Presentation: Susan Wittig Albert & Paula Stallings Yost
Keynote Speech [Lake Austin Room]
Follow the Few: Find Your Story, with Linda Hasselstrom
(Dessert reception following; included in registration fee) [Lady Bird Lake Room]

Saturday, April 12
8:30am Registration opens [Highland Lakes Foyer]
8:30am Silent Auction opens [Lady Bird Lake Room]
8:30am Exhibitors Room opens (hours: 8:30am-12:30pm, 2-6pm) [Guadalupe/Barton Creek Rooms]
9-10:30am Session 1
10:30-11am ***Coffee/Tea Break*** [Highland Lakes Foyer]
The winner of our Sarton Women's Memoir Award will sign/sell her book.
11am-12:30pm Session 2
12:30-2pm Lunch (included in registration fee) [Highland Lakes Ballroom]
Entertainment: readings from Times They Were A-Changing, with Kate Farrell, Linda Joy Myers, & Amber Starfire, featuring Sara Etgen-Baker reading an excerpt from her prize winning piece, "The September Wind"
2-3:30pm ***Free time & Special Sessions***
3pm ***Drinks & light refreshments*** [Highland Lakes Foyer]
3:30-5pm Session 3
5:30pm Silent Auction closes [Lady Bird Lake Room]
5-8pm free time; Dutch-treat dinner, Wyndham Hotel restaurant and other nearby restaurants
We will have several "Special Interest" tables
8-10pm After-dinner Open Mike: Storytelling from the Heart [Lake Austin, Lake Travis, & Lake LBJ Rooms]

Sunday, April 13
9-10:30am Session 4
10:30-11am ***Coffee/Tea Break*** [Highland Lakes Foyer]
11am-12:30pm Session 5
12:30-2pm Lunch (included in registration fee) [Highland Lakes Ballroom]
Luncheon Speech: The Writing Gene, with Nancy Curtis

Preliminary Program *

Friday Afternoon Pre-Conference Workshops
noon-1:45pm; 2-3:45pm
(There's an extra fee for each of these workshops. Please pre-register.)

* The Three Stages of Memoir Writing [Lake LBJ Room] noon-1:45pm
Linda Joy Myers, Richmond CA
Memoir writers need a roadmap to begin, develop, publish their memoir. Identifying these stages: Kickstart Your memoir, The Muddy Middle, and Birthing your Book can help you start—and finish—your memoir. We will discuss and use the tools you need to get to the end of a first draft.

Our goals for the workshop:
Memoir writers need to understand the process of writing all the way through to the end of a first draft of a long form memoir. They need to how to structure a memoir, which is one of the weaknesses memoir writers have, and find out what stops them from writing—a place I've dubbed "The Muddy Middle." We will define and problem solve what comes up in the three stages of memoir writing and focus on exercises to develop new skills. The road map will help each writer define and illuminate the places where memoir writers get stuck and give them solutions to they can get to the publishing stage.

In Kickstart, we will do timeline and turning point exercises, and learn how to write scenes, the building blocks of story, In the Muddy Middle we will discuss, truth, writing as healing, the inner and outer critic and do exercises. In Birthing Your Memoir, we will talk about editing, revising, and publishing.

Methods we'll use to achieve these goals:
Participants will receive handouts about the skills they need to write a memoir, and we will work on the turning point exercise, putting their turning points in the timeline, and writing scenes that weave story with narrative. I'll draw from the structure of the book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed to show how it is structured and discuss how they could develop a framed memoir like hers.

We will discuss the process of the three stages, and have them define where they are, using the Q&A to get to their specific questions. Writing exercises will offer a hands-on way to proceed with their memoir. They will come away with the stages of publishing, from essays to eBooks, to hybrid to traditional publishing models.

Benefits participants can expect:
The arc of writing, developing, and publishing a memoir will be addressed with practical solutions that really work, tried and true skills that include craft as well as the psychology of writing a full length work. The group discussion and the writing exercises to be shared will offer support emotionally and with craft skills that they can take home and use. They will come away knowing that others can run into the same challenges and that there are ways to solve them. They will leave with the ability to define the stages where they are writing, locate the stuck places, and work their way through them in the future. They will have two new vignettes as well, and a timeline that they can keep building.

* "What's It All About?" [Lake LBJ Room] 2-3:45pm
Leila Levinson, Austin TX
You have filled countless journals with free writing, excavating your life. Now what? How do you turn the raw material into a memoir? The most crucial step is figuring out what your story is about. What is its theme? What will be the thrust of its narrative arc?

Our goals for the workshop:
When people set out to write memoirs, they often find the excavating of their material easy and then stumble when they set out to organize it, to frame it with a specific focus. For someone else to find our stories interesting, they must have a point, a beginning, climax, and resolution that creates insight for the reader into their own life. Yet it is difficult to step far enough back from our own stories that we understand what they are about. This workshop will facilitate attendees understanding the importance of a narrative arc and how a theme creates universality and the possibility of an arc, of creating order out of life's mishmash. Attendee will leave the workshop with a sense of their memoir's theme.

Methods we'll use to achieve these goals:

  • arrive at the workshop having already identified three or four key scenes from your writing
  • bring a list of your three favorite memoirs with a brief description of the books' themes and arcs of those books
  • We will share together how those arcs express the theme and how the themes connect us to the memoirs. Leila will have a handout of possible themes.
  • Then we will break into small groups of three where each attendee will read their scenes and brainstorm with the group about what their theme might be. ,
  • We will then come together into the large group to share our findings and reactions and questions.

Benefits participants can expect:

  • A sense of the importance of a theme to a memoir having universal appeal.
  • How a theme is essential to creating an organization of the material other than purely chronological.
  • The possible themes for their stories.
  • Ideas of how the theme can lead to possible narrative arcs for their stories.
  • A sense of the importance of a theme to a memoir having universal appeal.


Session 1: 9-10:30am

  1. Finding Our Voices:
    * Honestly, how honest should you be in your memoir?: [Lake Austin Room]
    Anne Kaier, Philadelphia PA & Harilyn Rousso, New York NY
    You may want to explore difficult or hidden chapters of your lives. However, you may hesitate. How will family, friends, or professional communities react?

    In our presentation, writing exercises will help you check your comfort level with revealing material. We'll also learn narrative techniques—like mixing fiction and memoir or using cameos—so you can be only as revealing as you want.

  2. Nuts & Bolts:
    * Raising the Dead: [ELC Room]
    Patricia Charpentier, Orlando FL
    This informative and fun presentation focuses on the different methods of preserving family history and how to take ancestral facts—names, places and dates—and turn them into interesting and enjoyable stories without fictionalizing the material. We'll discuss different ways to look at historical data with an eye for story.

  3. Putting Our Hearts on Paper:
    * Sister Story, Brother Story, Favorite Relative Story: [Lake LBJ Room]
    Marilyn Collins, Rogers AR
    Learn to enrich your memoir with hilarious, poignant, or memorable events with siblings and/or other relatives—pet antics too. For instance, "Big sisters may be the crab grass of life," but their wisdom often becomes a mantra for your life. You'll write and share stories that include special family members.

  4. Storytelling: Ways & Means:
    * Rising to the Universal: [Lake Travis Room]
    Laura Cottam Sajbel, Austin TX
    Identifying the theme or historical value of your material can mean the difference in typing remembrances for your family—or elevating your story to speak to a far broader audience, through historical accuracy, research, and tight writing.

Session 2: 11am-12:30pm

  1. Finding Our Voices:
    * The Dance Between Dreams and Life Writing: [Lake Austin Room]
    Billie Ortiz, Boulder CO & Donna Remmert, Boulder CO
    In this workshop, we will explore how life writing can be influenced and guided by dreams and synchronicities that can take you back to the very feelings, sounds, smells and images you experienced at various times in your life, inspiring heightened awareness and individuation.

  2. Nuts & Bolts:
    * How Many Hats Does it Take to Publish a Book?: [Lake LBJ Room]
    Nancy Curtis, Glendo WY
    You've taken off your author hat, and now it's time for your book's next step. Whether it is working with a publisher or self-publishing, you'll need to know what happens next. Editing, design, cover design, production, promotion, marketing, not to mention contracts, bookkeeping, shipping: a conglomerate publishing corporation has experts for each. But if you go it alone you'll need to wear plenty of hats to get it all done.

  3. Putting Our Hearts on Paper:
    * A Legacy of Story: [ELC Room]
    Amber Starfire, Napa CA
    Your story is one of the most precious gifts you can give your family and future generations. In this workshop you will learn how to identify and begin writing down the meaningful events in your life. You'll use memory-triggering techniques and writing prompts to create an outline of significant life experiences that can be expanded into a simple book of stories, an autobiography, or memoir. And you'll receive tips to write those stories in ways that engage your readers and make them want to continue turning the pages.

  4. Storytelling: Ways & Means:
    * When Digital Isn't Real: Fact Finding Offline for Serious Writers: [Lake Travis Room]
    Marlene Samuels, Chicago IL
    Accurate research is critical to memoirs. Details establish and maintain the writer's credibility. Portraying time and context demands research well beyond the internet but increasing internet dependence is diluting accuracy. Writers are losing non-digital research strategies. Some information never will be digital so learning to conduct "real" research-where to find information and how, is a skill every writer must master.

Special Sessions: 2-3:30pm

  1. * Special Session: 5 Ways New Non-Fiction Writers Can Reach Readers: [2:15-3pm: ELC Room]
    Debra Winegarten, Austin TX
    In this presentation, participants will learn five ways to identify new markets for their non-fiction books. While this workshop will work for any type of non-fiction, this session will focus on memoir and biography marketing and audience-building. Goals: work with participants to identify their target markets; give participants a road map they can use to identify new audiences; have the participants leave with a list of 7-10 new places previously unidentified they can go to to market their books; have participants leave inspired to reach out beyond their comfort zones in making contacts.

  2. * Special Session: Keep Your Day Going With Restorative, Relaxing Chair Yoga: [2:30-3:10pm Lake Travis Room]
    Regina Moser, Austin TX
    Feeling like you are ready for a break? Yet, still feeling the desire to learn more? Thinking about caffeine?

    You are invited to take a moment from the best conference ever to quiet your mind and focus on relaxing and restoring your body. Regina invites you to sit down for awhile and learn gentle movements, designed to restore your energy and create a sense of calm. Regina will encourage you to focus on your breath and lead you through a series of gentle poses that will have thinking blissful thoughts. As you leave class feeling reenergized and refreshed you will leave with a handout that encourages you to care for your body and to focus on knowing the joys of the three V's: Vim, Vigor and Vitality.

    No yoga experience or mat required for this gentle seated practice.

Session 3: 3:30-5pm

  1. Finding Our Voices:
    * The Exciting World of OWLS: [ELC Room]
    Judy Watters, Spring Branch TX
    Will demonstrate the process from beginning to end how to facilitate a lively and fun OWL circle.

  2. Nuts & Bolts:
    * How to Promote Your Book on a Budget—And Still Have Time to Write: [Lake Travis Room]
    Sheila Allee, Austin TX
    Participants will learn how to put together a basic book marketing plan, identify target audiences, craft key messages that will connect with those audiences, and map out a list of steps to take to get your book into the hands of those readers.

  3. Putting Our Hearts on Paper:
    * Eighty Percent of Success: How to Make Your Journal Sustain Your Writing: [Lake Austin Room]
    Linda Hasselstrom, Hermosa SD
    For the writer of memoir, a daily journal can be the best writing tool, a primary source, the key to good writing. We will discuss how the journals Linda has kept for sixty years helped her find her voice as a writer, serving as her teacher and advisor. This workshop will motivate writers to keep their own daily handwritten journals; demonstrate how to organize a journal that is a useful writing tool; provide definitions of what a journal IS and what it IS NOT; and provide writing exercises to help beginning writers learn to use their journals in the best possible way.

  4. Storytelling: Ways & Means:
    * From Census to Story: Bringing a Family Tree to Life: [Lake LBJ Room]
    Carole Rogers, Morristown NJ
    Genealogical records provide rich details for women's stories—when we know how to read between the lines. We will write in class from two sources, learning how to build character, setting, and even dialogue. Participants need not have prior experience with family research, but must bring curiosity and a writer's heart.


Session 4: 9-10:30am

  1. Finding Our Voices:
    * A Goldmine of Life Stories: Genograms: [ELC Room]
    Cheryl Reynolds Linck, Palm Beach Gardens FL & Fran Reynolds, Columbia MO
    "The past is prologue," wrote Shakespeare! Our own life's prologue is in the generations who came before us. Using a genogram, which is an expanded family tree, can help us identify family patterns, myths, lifestyles and beliefs giving valuable insight into our personal lives' past and present. This is a goldmine for life stories! In this workshop we will develop genograms and then mine it for good stories.

  2. Nuts & Bolts:
    * Is Blogging Right for You?: [Lake LBJ Room]
    Judy Miller, Zionsville IN
    Blogging is hip, mainstream. Sexy. However, blogging isn't for everyone. Many have jumped into blogging only to eventually discover they are in over their head or run out of steam. In this session participants will discover, whether blogging is a commitment they want, and how to keep at it.

  3. Putting Our Hearts on Paper:
    * Telling Healing Stories: Writing a Compelling Memoir: [Lake Austin Room]
    Madeline Sharples, Manhattan Beach CA & Eleanor Vincent, Oakland CA
    This workshop by two accomplished memoirists covers how to use any type of crisis situation to drive a compelling story. Using writing exercises and examples from their own books Madeline Sharples and Eleanor Vincent show how it is possible to transform personal loss into a page-turning story.

  4. Storytelling: Ways & Means:
    * Truth & Story: [Lake Travis Room]
    Judith Helburn, Austin TX
    Once upon a time.... Myths, fairy tales and even our own made-up stories hold a grain [at least] of truth. Writers will be encouraged to engage in outlandish flights of their imaginations using story cards as a base from which to create their unique story.

Session 5: 11am-12:30pm

  1. Finding Our Voices:
    * Navigating through scene, summary and musing in memoir: [Lake LBJ Room]
    Fran Simone, Charleston WV
    Wallace Stegner writes that scene and summary are all there is to fiction, but neither is simple. Memoir includes another feature: the writer's retrospective voice (musings). It isn't simple either. The presentation will focus on how to interweave all three to craft a compelling story.

  2. Nuts & Bolts:
    * Transforming Your Writing Life in Just 20 Minutes a Day: [Lake Travis Room]
    Helen Leatherwood, Beverly Hills CA
    Participants will discover how 20 minutes of daily timed writing can help create a satisfying writing life. They will learn: 1) how to schedule a brief writing period everyday; 2) how to publish daily writing via SCN e-circles, Facebook or a blog; 3) how to use two different quick-write methods in timed writing exercises during the session; and 4) how to overcome obstacles that may stand in their path of writing for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

  3. Putting Our Hearts on Paper:
    * Home Is Where the Heart Is: [Lake Austin Room]
    Joyce Boatright, Houston TX
    Home is an emotionally packed word, powered by heart-felt memories. What did home mean to you as a child? What does home mean to you now? Participants will journal the answers to these and other home-focused questions to explore the meaning of home as it has evolved over a lifetime.

  4. Storytelling: Ways & Means:
    * From Family Documents to Published Book: [ELC Room]
    Susan Morrison, Austin TX
    In this workshop, participants will hear of my process for turning my mother's diaries into a published book as a model for transforming their own family documents. Participants will then work on how they may turn their personal documents into a text to transcribe, edit, and publish.

Story-Telling From the Heart: Open Mike
Saturday Night, Live,
in Austin Texas

Stories From the Heart

It's Saturday night in Austin TX—what would you like to do after you've enjoyed a fine dinner at one of Austin's many great restaurants? Well, you might take in a film, or visit Austin's disco district (the River City is widely known as the Live Music Capital of the World).

Or we could all hang out together and swap stories.

Swap stories?

Hey, what a great idea! After all, isn't that what Story Circle is all about? And who has more stories to swap than women—women who have loved and laughed and cried and succeeded and failed and survived and, yes, triumphed! Creative, canny, crafty, clever, courageous women. Women who have lived ordinary, extraordinary, and sometimes downright outrageous lives!

So for Saturday night's entertainment, we offer you—ta da! (a flourish of trumpets and rattle of drums, please)—an open mike!

And all you have to bring is you, and your story. Maybe it's a piece you've already shared with your Story Circle, or a poem or two that you've just finished, or a short autobiographical fiction piece. Maybe it's a story to be sung, or danced (if you need music, let us know ahead of time). Or perhaps you'd like to bring a piece of art that you've made—pottery, painting, textile, whatever—and tell us how and why it is part of your story. The sky's the limit, gals, and the only thing we have to fear (as some famous man said once) is fear itself. So let's see how many different stories, and how many different ways to tell a story, we can all come up with.

To give each story-teller a chance to participate we will be dividing into three separate meeting rooms and will ask reader to limit her turn at the mike to five minutes including opening remarks. (Please note that it takes ONE minute to read ONE double-spaced page or to read ½ single spaced page and plan accordingly.) There are a limited number of spaces available, so sign up will begin Saturday after dinner and will end when all places have been reserved and Open Mike begins at 8pm. Whether you come to read, listen, share or all of the above, we look forward to seeing you there! And please bring a copy of your piece to post on the Story Wall—and plan to email it to us, as well, for sharing with the attendees!

Remember that wonderful '60s song that began "When you come to San Francisco, be sure and wear flowers in your hair"?

When you come to Austin, Texas, be sure to bring a story from your heart. We're eager to hear it, y'all!

*Session topics are still tentative.