Stumbling upon a memoir workshop

From its launch in September 2021, Parisian Phoenix Publishing Company has dedicated itself to unique voices and diverse perspectives. Our writers may occupy niches outside commercially viable literature, but the projects we support, we believe, deserve a place in the world. This is a hard environment for most endeavors, in many industries (so consider buying books* or contacting us for our signed copies mailed to your door for as little as $20).

With that reality, we, as a publisher, want to share with your the research and resources we find in our journey.

Today’s post is about one of those resources.

A few weeks ago, I received an email advertisement from the feminist publication, Room. I saved it, because it offered a free online memoir workshop, and something to do with fairy tales.

Yesterday I finally read it, and I clicked on the link. It took me to a video by Janelle Hardy. It offered me six days of free access to her memoir writing workshop, “Outline your memoir using fairy tale and myth as your guide” if I signed up for her mailing list.

So I did. I know email can be a pain-in-the-butt, but a good email mailing list can yield wonderful information about events, techniques and opportunities you might not otherwise know. So I love a good mailing list. You can find good deals, coupons and even wisdom in the right mailing list.

Now, I listened to 40 minutes of the workshop as I drank my morning coffee. I didn’t have my pen, paper or even my fully focused brain. I just wanted to learn if her ideas and her process was worth my time.

It is.

She is a good speaker. She makes nice slides. She directs those following along to reflect, pause the video and do. She also reminds people when not to think too much or not to spend too much time perfecting things too early in the process.

I don’t know exactly how this all fits together, but the Google doc that accompanies her workshop has great prompts for ordering your life time line and trying to focus on your key themes that might be your memoir. And I have a feeling the use of fairy tale is to provide structure to our personal storytelling. Will our individual hero’s journey mimic what the bones of the fairy tale we choose?

While we are on the topic… A good example of memoir versus autobiography a book I received via NetGalley, All Signs Point to Paris by Natasha Sizlo. The book chronicles a segment of her life where astrology, social media and dating apps intersect as Sizlo tries to rebuild her life after a tumultuous time in her forties (her divorce, bankruptcy, father’s death and a failed relationship with a sexy, fun Frenchman). The book could be an autobiography and tell us about her life from childhood through motherhood and beyond, but instead it uses this pivotal moment in her midlife to frame the tale. This is not the story of who she is and what made her, but a story of what happened when she traveled to Paris to find a soulmate, someone born in that city on November 2, 1968.


*This link goes to Barnes & Noble. They are the only online retailer I have found that lists all of a publisher’s books on one page so you can peruse them together and not by author. If you prefer something less “big business” let me recommend Bookshop.org. We are working on getting our own “shop” and affiliate listing. **

** since I wrote this post, our affiliate listing on Bookshop.org, supporting Book & Puppet Company in downtown Easton, has been verified.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother Publisher at Parisian Phoenix (parisianphoenix.com) Author of the Fashion and Fiends series

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