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Finessing the Memoir with Melanie Calahan and Clare Wood

  • Residence Inn by Marriott 125 North Pattee Street Missoula, MT, 59802 United States (map)


Finessing the Memoir with Melanie Calahan and Clare Wood

Few other forms of writing are as maligned and/or misunderstood as the memoir. In this workshop, we’ll dispel some of the myths about memoirs. For one, they’re not someone’s whole life story. And, for two, people don’t have to be in their dotage to write one.

A memoir's job is to preserve a person’s history. And, when done right, it draws readers in like any other story should, with engaging characters, a well-developed plot, and a point. Consider, for instance, William Styron’s Darkness Visible, Toni Morrison’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Ishmael Baeh’s, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.

In this workshop, we’ll look at the different kinds of memoirs, from transformational to travel, and share some tips on how to decide which approach to take. We’ll also open up the discussion so attendees can ask questions about their own (possible) projects. And, finally, if there’s time, we’ll outline how to get started, from finding purpose, to deciding on form, to creating a timeline.


Clare Wood is an award-winning journalist who most recently worked at the Austin American-Statesman and at After more than 30 years in journalism, she chose to share her vast editorial knowledge with authors pursuing independent publishing. She serves as Editorial Director of Self-Publishing Services LLC, where she works on books for bestselling and award-winning authors, including multiple memoirists. Clare also writes her own fiction, including two short stories she published under her pen name Clare Tallier, and she’s working on a full-length novel.

Melanie Calahan combines a lifelong passion for reading and writing with a fifteen-year career in marketing and copywriting, including a stint as Marketing Director for a community development non-profit, Account Manager for an ad agency, and Lead Copywriter for an online electronics retailer, in her role as Marketing Director with Self-Publishing Services. She has published two short stories of her own and is working on her first full-length novel. In the meantime, she’s helping other people master the art of websites, social media, and effective copywriting.