memoir your September

August 24, 2018

September is Whatcom Memoir Writing Month (WhaMemWriMo) and for the fourth year, Chuckanut Writers and Village Books will offer a series of four memoir workshops. The goal for each writer is 1,666 words a day — 50,000 words (a book’s worth) for the month.

The workshops, taught on successive Thursdays by Cami Ostman, Laura Kalpakian, Nancy Canyon, and Jennifer Wilhoit, can be taken individually or as a series ($25 each or all four for $89). See the full description and registration links on the Village Books WhaMemWriMo page.

Whatcom Memoir Writing Month
This is a guest post by Cami Ostman.

September 2015 marks the inaugural Whatcom Memoir Writing Month!

Whatcom County has long been known as a supportive community for writers, and in particular we are replete with memoir writers (perhaps because so many people with interesting life stories have settled in this area). For every memoir on the shelf at Village Books by a local author, there are at least a dozen in-progress manuscripts. Writers toil in solitude, bumping up against time constraints and their inner critics. Well, next month Whatcom County sends out an invitation to all the lonely memoir writers sitting at coffee shops and libraries around the county to join together!!

Following the model of National Novel Writing Month (which takes place every November), Village Books, Red Wheelbarrow Writers, Whatcom Community College (Chuckanut Writers), and Dwyer Café are co-sponsoring a county-wide challenge for prospective memoir writers to complete the rough drafts of their manuscripts in 30 days!!

The goal is for each writer to write 1,667 words every day. At the end of September you will have 50,000 words (with 10 words to spare): a book.

Take note of the various opportunities for support that writers can take advantage of for both encouragement and accountability.

Facebook Page:
Go to and “Like” WhaMemWriMo on Facebook to stay in touch with others racing toward the 50,000 word goal. Post your struggles and your triumphs.

WhaMemWriMo Workshop Series:
This series of workshops will help you effectively turn your memories into memoir, giving shape and voice to the stories you have always wanted to share and the stories your readers want to hear. These Thursday evening workshops (from 5:30 to 7:00pm) at the Village Books Readings Gallery, led by experienced memoir writers and teachers, can be taken as a whole, or you can select from the individual workshops to suit your needs. Here are the offerings:

  1. Intro to Writing Your Memoir: Making the Narrative Journey (taught by Laura Kalpakian on Thursday, September 3, 2015)
  2. Managing Relationships with Family while Writing About Them (taught by Laurel Leigh on Thursday, September 10, 2015)
  3. Generating Scenes to Complete the Literary Arc of Your Memoir (taught by Nancy Canyon on Thursday, September 17, 2015)
  4. Tame Your Inner Critic (taught by Cami Ostman on Thursday, September 24, 2015)

For more details or to register go WhaMemWriMo Workshop Series: Write Your Memoir in September!

Write Outs:
Every Saturday during the month of September, come tap away at your keyboard with other writers. From 10:00am-1:00pm each Saturday join Sean Dwyer at the Book Fare Café on the mezzanine of Village Books for moral support and communal writing. Lunch is included and tickets can be purchased through

A Culminating Celebration:
Date TBD, but stay tuned to the Facebook Page for an announcement of an open mic reading in early October. Come read from the manuscript you’ve generated during WhaMemWriMo.

Red Wheelbarrow Writers Memory Into Memoir Anthology:
Submissions for the Red Wheelbarrow Writers’ first Anthology will be due on October 31, 2015.

Submission guidelines: Red Wheelbarrow Writers takes its name from the famous poem by William Carlos Williams. Over his long career, Williams published in literary magazines, as well as whole volumes of verse. Please have a look through his work (it is all collected in one volume if you’d like to reference that) and find a line that strikes a chord in memory. With your submission, please identify the line and the poem from which you took it. The line itself does not need to appear in your memoir essay, it simply needs to inspire your piece in some way.

  1. Your memoir piece should be no more than 3000 words.
  2. You should try to focus on one self-contained scene.
  3. One submission per writer.
  4. Please include a 150-word bio of yourself.

Deadline: October 31, 2015.
Send to:
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Cami OstmanOne of the founders of Red Wheelbarrow Writers, Cami Ostman is the author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, the co-editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion, a writing coach and teacher, and a family therapist. She holds a Bachelor of Education in English and Theater from Western Washington University and a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University (both in Washington State). She is also a dog lover, a wine connoisseur, a runner, and a blogger. Her blogs can be found at and on Cami has appeared in O Magazine and Fitness Magazine and periodically writes for Adventures Northwest.

Village Books

Have you seen the lineup of fall 2013 workshops at Village Books in Bellingham? The workshops all require advance registration and will be held either in the Village Books Readings Gallery or in the Fairhaven Village Inn Conference Room. In brief…

Nancy Canyon teaches Place to Place: Writing the Environment
Thursdays, October 3, 10, 17 and 24, 6:30-8:30pm

Cami Ostman teaches What “Type” of Writer are You?
Tuesday, November 12, 7-8:30pm

Marketing specialist & publishing consultant Alice Acheson teaches two workshops
The Greatest Marketing Tool on Friday, November 15, 5:30-8:30
Your Book — What’s Next? on Saturday, November 16, 10am-5pm

Learn more about the instructors, the workshops and registration on the Village Books Writing Workshops page.