Contests for Memoir Writers — And Resources to Help You Prepare

It’s the season to be jolly and give shout outs to other bloggers and teachers. First, let me tell you about a contest from one of my “oldest” online writing buddies, Sonia Marsh. She and I met at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in 2008 — or was it 2009? At any rate, we’ve both been blogging and writing manuscripts ever since. Sonia has created an amazing  contest. I am hoping some of the readers of this blog will take the challenge she tosses out below. If you have never written memoir but enjoy reading it, here’s an opportunity to try your hand. You could be a winner!

Sonia’s blog can be found here, and her Twitter handle is Gutsyliving. I love her tag line — “life’s too short to play it safe” — don’t you?

Also, here’s a free class being offered on how to write a memoir with an emphasis on short ones. Perfect for the contest above.

All the info you need about signing up for the class is here. Tessa Smith McGovern, the teacher, sent me the link because she thought the readers of this blog could benefit. If you do, please come back and tell us about your experience here.

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Online community networks are wonderful ways to find good opportunities and also good resources. Lots of them are free or reasonably priced. Enjoy!

If you have a resource you want to offer, please hop on to the comments section. 

Out of curiosity, how many of you are writing memoir, thinking about it, or have already done it. Hop on for this purpose also.




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Shirley Showalter


  1. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living on December 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks Shirley for mentioning the “My Gutsy Story” contest and encouraging all your fans to join. We’ve had some fablous stories on “Gutsy Living” and I hope to receive more from all your wonderful memoir writers. There are some great prizes and sponsors, including Marla Miller (Query letter expert), Dale Griffiths Stamos (story structure expert), Annabel Candy (Blogging expert). Also adding fun sponsors not related to writing. Good luck to all writers, and thank you Shirley. Can’t wait to read your memoir. Sonia

  2. richardmpotter on December 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Shirley, thanks-a-million for recommending both of these opportunities. As you know, I submitted a mini-memoir to Sonia’s contest and she plans to post it soon. I also took part in Tessa’s class this afternoon. It was very worthwhile. Yes, I am writing a memoir, working title “Playing By Fear”, about the five years I led my church’s music program – as a volunteer – while simultaneously leading the fundraising and communications division of a national nonprofit organization.

    As scary as that was at the time (hence, Playing By Fear), I find that writing memoir has its own unique fear-factors. I also find that your web site and the connections it offers are helpful in facing the fears and doing the work. Please keep up the great work, Shirley. You have made a difference in my life already!

  3. Janet Oberholtzer on December 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I love the name, tag line and idea of GutsyLiving. And I really want to join in this contest … hoping to find the time to submit something soon. My memoir, “Because I Can” was released in Sept and I’m doing a number of speaking gigs/book signings/guest posts surrounding that … and not having as much time for things like this, but I hope to send something your way soon.

    • Gutsy Living on December 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

      Hi Janet,

      I do hope you submit your “My Gutsy Story.” Look forward to seeing it when you’re ready. Thanks, Sonia.

  4. shirleyhs on December 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    It’s so much fun to connect all of you to each other. I feel like the match maker in Fiddler on the Roof. 🙂 Sonia truly is Gutsy, and she has a great brand growing here. Some day soon her own memoir will be published. I hold that intention for her.

    And Sonia, both of these people will blow you away with their stories.

  5. OneGirlRiot on December 25, 2011 at 7:36 am

    What a treat to find your blog! I got an email from LinkedIn with an update for the Women’s Memoirs group,saw a post by Sonia and went to her blog–submitted an excerpt then browsed through her blog a bit, hopped over to Marla Miller’s site, then saw a link to 100 Memoirs–and woohoo! Here I am in heaven.

    Nice to meet you. 🙂


    • Gutsy Living on December 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Just like Shirley, I found this reply on Christmas morning. What a wonderful present for me to know we are all one team of writers, trying to help one another. Now I’m waiting for my sons to wake up for our Christmas breakfast.

      • shirleyhs on December 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm

        Merry Christmas to you and yours, Sonia. Hope you have all three sons there with you. Post a picture on Facebook of you with all your handsome dudes and Duke. 🙂

  6. shirleyhs on December 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Hi, Stacy! What a lovely Christmas present this morning. A new blogger/writer friend. Welcome to I’m so glad if it can be a resource to you.

    Now I’m off to see what you are up to in your blogs.

  7. Cheryl Stahle on January 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Kismet brought me here. I recently went head to head with Richard on Sonia’s Gutsy Story contest. I ran with the bulls in Spain which was a key turning point in unleashing my inner spirit. I have my first book coming out in 2012 as a resource guide for writing memoirs. As a writing group leader for years this just seemed to be the perfect place to start. My own memoir, Sleeping Through the Nightmare about my son’s journey through a very rare sleep disorder is on the drafting table–there is definitely fear in reliving that story. I’m always up for a guest blog….follow along.

  8. […] about Sonia? I first wrote about her, one of my Santa Barbara Writers Conference friends, when she started her contest for personal stories about courage on her blog, Gutsy […]

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