4 Helpful Websites for Writing Memoir

Diana Jackson at A Selection of Recollections was kind enough to post an article I wrote about how I put This New Mountain together (and she gave it a great title, too). Visit her site to read “Writing Readable and Compelling Memoir.”

If you’re looking for places to glean great writing advice for memoir, here are four websites I’ve found helpful—plus an in-depth article by bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins.

NAMWlogo-variation-2-300x124National Association of Memoir Writers
The goal of NAMW “is to help memoir writers feel empowered with purpose and energy to begin and develop their life stories into a publishable memoir, whether in essay form, a book, a family legacy, or to create a blog.” Besides excellent articles, they also have public roundtable recordings of topics pertaining to memoir writing.

Memory TreeThe Heart and Craft of Life Writing
Tips, guidelines and insights on all facets of life writing, plus click on their Free Stuff tab for eBooks and timeline resources. Content includes author interviews and guest posts, as well as Sharon Lippincott’s own observations and tips from her book, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing.

Memories&Memoir2Memories & Memoirs
Linda Joy Myers says, “Most people who write memoir are searching for memories that validate their experience, but they worry about writing the truth. A memoir is not a factual recitation of history, it’s a recollection, a musing and merging of images, dreams, reflections moments on your life’s journey.”

memoirWritersJourney3Memoir Writer’s Journey
You’ll find a wide range of posts from exploring themes to social media tidbits on Kathy Pooler’s website. She’s “a writer and a retired family nurse practitioner working on a memoir about the power of hope through my faith in God. Hope Matters. I believe we are all enriched when we share our stories.”

“How to Write Your Memoir: A 4-Step Guide” by Jerry B. Jenkins
Jerry Jenkins is the author of the memoir Writing for the Soul (and over 190 other books). In this article, he says, “A memoir draws on selected anecdotes from your life to support a theme and make a point.” But in the eyes of a publisher, your memoir is “not about you — it’s about what readers can gain from your story.” He goes on to discuss: 1) theme; 2) choosing anecdotes; 3) using novel-writing techniques; and 4) telling your truth without “throwing people under the bus.” He also touches on common memoir mistakes and includes a list of 10 well-written memoirs (out of the nearly 50 he read before writing his own). The article is worth a read and bookmarking/printing for later.

What websites or articles do you recommend for writing memoir?


Free Resources for Writers: Promotion, Interviews & Reviews

In my quest to find online sites to promote my book This New Mountain, I’ve collected a ridiculous amount of information. Here are just a few useful websites.


Renata_PressSandy Bazinet is an author with a heart to help other writers. She broke through years of writer’s block by giving herself “the freedom to simply have fun and create” and discovered that “the story begins to tell itself.” Sandy posts interviews of authors of different genres (fiction and nonfiction) such as Anne Hillerman, Joseph Badal, Slim Randles, Sarah Baker, and Steve Brewer.  She includes a book cover image with links to your website/blog and book buying pages. Contact Sandy at ssbazinet@gmail.com to request an author interview. (Read my interview here.)


IA logo blue flaskThrough RobinKalinich.com, Robin runs Ink & Alchemy (focusing on artists and creatives) and More Ink (focusing on writers). As the administrator of these sites, her goal is “to inspire and encourage others who wish to be creative, while promoting the work of existing writers and artists.” If you’d like to be a Featured Writer at More Ink, go to this page for more information. She also welcomes submissions of creative epiphanies of up to 5000 words. Check out her Resources tab for great information including places to promote your free eBooks, podcasts geared to social media and platform, and to download her free 25-page pdf  “Basics of Building a Social Media Platform.”


kornerkonnection“Discovering. Sharing. Promoting…with special emphasis on Indie Authors.” This site offers free book promotion on their EBookKornerKafe Facebook page (which has over 19,000 likes at this point). Go to KornerKonnection.com and read their notes to understand how it all works, then fill out the form, submit, and watch for your book to show up on their Facebook page. There’s also a less active page for print versions at KlassicKafe. You can submit to both, but the submission form for Ebook Korner Kafe has a place to indicate  both versions are available.


bookgoodies-sq-logo-200“Our mission at BookGoodies.com is to present information for authors to make wise choices in their writing and publishing journey and give all authors a chance to be discovered, reviewed and read. We want to allow readers the opportunity to find new authors and books that will enrich their reading enjoyment.” Some services cost, but the following are free:

  • Authors: Tell Us About Your Book: Submit information about your book (for all genres) or use the special links for memoirs (with link to book review request); cookbooks and food; cats, dogs, and other pets; and craft books and tutorials.
  • Book Reviews: To request a book review, submit electronic copies of your book in pdf, plain text, rtf, doc, docx or mobi format. (I had to hunt for this link which isn’t obvious in any of the main tabs.)
  • Author Interview: Answer their questions and include links to your website, Amazon pages, Goodreads, etc.
  • Guest Posts: Submit a guest post and include links to your website, Amazon pages, and other social media sites.
  • Author Services: Submit information for the services you offer to writers; explain what you do and how people should contact you.
  • Other: The Author/Bloggers/Reviewers tab is the general area that links to the things available to authors, etc. If you review books, go to Book Blogs. You can submit your short stories, book excerpts, and links to your book trailer through the Under the Reading Room tab.

What are your favorite websites for free book promotion?

Dialogue, Disclaimers, and Diarrhea

ForestPathWhat do dialogue, disclaimers, and diarrhea have in common? They’re three of the topics of my most popular blog posts for 2013. Just over half the articles were related to writing, the rest included recipes and one remedy for – yes – diarrhea. If you missed any of these, here are the top ten posts from my blog for last year.

  1. Ten Favorite Country Sayings – Wisdom (or country wisdom, anyway) must have been on many people’s minds this year, evidenced by my No. 1 blog post.
  2. Writing the Memoir: Disclaimers – Most works of fiction include a disclaimer to help ward off potential lawsuits, and it’s even more essential for a memoir. I include examples of different types of disclaimers and a link to where to find disclaimers for many kinds of fiction and nonfiction books.
  3. Writing a Memoir Like a Novel: Dialogue – The fourth post in my Writing a Memoir Like a Novel series discusses how to write natural dialogue.
  4. Free Resources for Writers: The Basics – This is a short list of free foundational resources that continue to help me in my writing journey.
  5. Southwestern Recipe: Green Chile Sausage Gravy – The flavor of green chile is popular both inside and outside of the southwestern United States. Here’s a recipe shared by a New Mexico fireman that never fails to keep the firehouse happy.
  6. Country Remedy: Diarrhea Relief – Who knew this country cure would be so popular, but AJ Jackson says this simple remedy has never failed to provide relief from diarrhea.
  7. Writing a Memoir Like a Novel: Story Arc – The first in the series of Writing a Memoir Like a Novel, this article discusses the beginning-middle-end structure of a memoir.
  8. 5 Tips for Retrieving Memories – An excellent article by Lisa Hase-Jackson (reprinted with permission) originally titled “Five Tips for Retrieving Memories and Developing Your Memoir.”
  9. Country Recipe: Old-Fashioned Tea Biscuits – This is one of AJ Jackson’s favorite family recipes that makes a ton of cookies.
  10. Writing the Memoir: Consider the Consequences – Three important things to think about before deciding to write a memoir.

Free Resources for Writers: Writing and Editing

Word Cloud Free Resources2Writers have countless ways to spend their money — whether on a double espresso to push through a final draft or a conference that has called to us for years. We all have life expenses that we must spend our money on now, as well as more wishful things that require time and sacrifice to save up for.

Here are a few free and useful resources to help you save money while still being able to organize, edit, and shape your writing world and its characters.

 Organizing Tool

yWriter5 is free novel-writing Spacejock software (designed for Windows PCs) that helps a writer organize and keep track of scenes and chapters, characters, settings and plot elements. “It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas, or perform creative tasks of any kind. It does help you keep track of your work, leaving your mind free to create.” The program was designed by Simon Haynes, programmer and author, after he struggled to keep track of the elements in his own first novel. You can type directly into yWriter5 or use your own word processor and then use yWriter5 to keep track of scenes, etc. Features include: tracking your progress; automatic backups at user-specified intervals; adding multiple/viewpoint characters, goals, conflict and outcome fields for each scene; a storyboard view for a visual layout of your work; re-ordering of scenes, drag and drop elements. “Contains no adverts, unwanted web toolbars, desktop search programs or other cruft.” K.M. Weiland has a yWriter video tutorial on her website here.

Editing Tools

  • ProWritingAid is a free online writing editor. Paste in a chapter and it produces 19 free reports to improve your writing – checks grammar and spelling; finds overused/repeated words and phrases, and clichés; checks for consistency in spelling, hyphenation and capitalization; analyses your manuscript for alliteration, vague/abstract/complex words, passive voice and adverbs, sentence length, and dialogue tags. One of the things I enjoy most about ProWritingAid is the feature that creates a word cloud – a visual representation of the most often used words in your text. For an example, see the word cloud for this article at the top of the post.
  • Listening to your work read aloud is a good way to catch mistakes and missing words, and also hear how it all flows. NaturalReader is free text-to-speech software with natural sounding voices. This software can read any text from Microsoft Word files, webpages, and PDF files (and can also convert text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV).

Writing Tools: Thesauruses

There are plenty of online thesauruses that provide alternate word choices, but nothing as extensive as what I found on the Writers Helping Writers website with its collection of free resources.

If you “need help describing your character’s pain, exhaustion, illness, dehydration, hunger, stress, attraction and more” download Emotion Amplifiers (a companion to The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi). This is a free 33-page pdf that “supplies the body language, thoughts and internal sensations that accompany conditions that ‘amplify’ a character’s mental state, leading to a stronger emotional reaction.” Go to the Writing Tools page (with lots of other free stuff) or click here for a direct link to the Emotion Amplifiers download.

You’ll find eight more Thesaurus Collections at the Writers Helping Writers website to help in describing every sort of thing writers might include in their fiction or nonfiction writing:

  • Physical Attributes Thesaurus Collection – choose specific physical features to create compelling and memorable characters
  • Weather & Earthly Phenomena Thesaurus Collection – for emotion-targeted sensory description
  • Color, Textures and Shapes Thesaurus Collection – add descriptive layers; create simile or metaphor for different shapes, colors and textures
  • Character Traits Thesaurus Collection (Samples) – cardinal personality profiles (expanded in The Positive Thesaurus & The Negative Thesaurus books)
  • Setting Thesaurus Entry Collection – smells, sights, tastes, sounds and textures for over 100 different fictional settings
  • Symbolism Thesaurus Entry Collection – use iconic symbolism for different literary themes (the passage of time, coming of age, etc.)
  • The Talents and Skills Thesaurus Collection – skills or talents make characters authentic, unique and interesting.
  • Emotion Thesaurus Entry Collection (Samples) – avoid overused expressions (like frowns and shrugs); craft unique body language, etc. (expanded in the comprehensive Emotion Thesaurus resource)

What are your favorite free writing and editing resources?

Free Resources for Writers: The Basics

?????????????I love free stuff. I’ll jump on a free book, no questions asked, even if it’s not a genre I normally read—you never know where a gem might be hiding just waiting to be unearthed. The same is true for writing resources.

There are tons of free resources to be found on the Internet, but here’s a short list of foundational ones that continue to help me in my writing journey.

The “Why” of Writing:

The Writer’s Manifesto by Jeff Goins is a “small eBook about getting back to the heart of writing…a call for writers to fall back in love with writing for the love of it.” If you’re ready to be inspired to write for the best of reasons, get a free copy of this short, read-in-one-sitting e-book by joining his newsletter list (or pay $.99 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble).


Make Reference.com your first stop on your road to research. Enter your topic in the search bar and watch how much information pops up.

You’ve probably already found Thesaurus.com and Dictionary.com but you may not have discovered WordHippo.com. This site provides definitions and synonyms/antonyms, as well as rhyming words, translations to other languages, word tenses, and pronunciation.

Etymonline.com is an online etymology dictionary. It’s a useful resource to add flavor and accuracy to your writing, to make sure words or phrases were indeed used in a certain place or during a specific time period. Take the noun “stuff.” I thought it was a fairly modern word, but etymonline.com tells me it was used in the 1570s to refer to “matter of an unspecified kind,” whereas usage in the context of “having a grasp on a subject” (to know stuff) isn’t recorded until 1927.

If you’re searching for names for your characters, you could check out a list for boys or girls or you could step out and use one of the many online generators. My favorite is Online Name Generator. Both the Random Name Generator and the Fake Name Generator produce realistic character names. Besides “normal” names, the site also generates ones for elves, pets, bands, clans, businesses, teams, fantasy characters, superheroes, vampires, pirates, as well as evil names and code names.

Redwood’s Medical Edge is a blog by author and RN Jordyn Redwood designed to help both historical and contemporary authors learn methods to write medically accurate fiction. She fields medical questions, analyzes medical scenes, and posts on topics that can increase the tension and conflict in any story. Check out her blog archives for topics.

At Videojug learn lots of things your modern characters might need to know to survive in their world or should know in their particular line of work. Find out about digital photography or dance moves under Creative & Culture, or how to repair fireplaces or stack wood under DIY & Home. For survivalists, go to Sports & Outdoors/Camping/Wilderness Survival to learn How to Make Fishing Nets, How to Hack a Flashlight for Emergency Power, and the all-important How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse.

Go to Written Sound for “how to write the sound of things: onomatopoeia and words of imitative origin” (like weapons fire or a person choking).

Here’s another one of my favorites – a list of British words not widely used in the United States (okay, I haven’t used this in my own writing, but it’s good to have in case I need it someday, and to help when watching those great British tv shows). Along the same lines is a list of words having different meanings in American and British English.


From The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates. Use this link to download 23 different worksheets to help with things like avoiding clichés and keeping track of description and supporting characters.

From Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. Go here to download more free and helpful worksheets, such as At-A-Glance Outline, Character Sketch, and Character Revealing Scenes.

I limited myself in this post to what I think are the basic resource needs of a writer. I didn’t include any of the awesome websites for writing advice, which I do consider a resource, but I’ll deal with those at a later date.

There are so many free resources on the web to help us with the basics of research and setting up our stories, please comment to share some of your favorites.