What’s Your Story?

Ever since Phil Donahue and Oprah first encouraged regular Americans to share their personal stories with the nation, and ever since “reality TV” proved that millions will tune in just to watch people fight with their roommates or discipline their children, the number of people drawn to the idea of writing their memoirs has skyrocketed.
In a place like Montclair -‚Äì where, as author David Henry Sterry puts it, you shake a tree and a half-dozen writers fall out -‚Äì it’s likely your next-door neighbor will be huddled over a keyboard tonight, detailing his or her wacky collegiate adventures or life-changing career triumphs.
Which means that Sterry and his wife, writer and literary agent Arielle Eckstut, have come to the right place…

The couple, who moved to Montclair last year, wrote “Putting Your Passion Into Print,” among other books, and are teaching a workshop called “The Art of the Memoir: Telling and Selling Your Life Stories” at Watchung Booksellers on Monday night.
They’ll share the stage with another Montclair author — Laura Schenone, who happens to be repped by Eckstut and was a force behind Sterry and Eckstut’s move from northern California to Baristaviille. (Sterry says Schenone told them all about Montclair’s thriving creative community and cool vibe. But on arrival they found the place even friendlier than they’d expected. “We moved in,” he says, “and people actually came and brought pies!”)
The workshop explores both the creative process of writing a memoir and the challenge of getting it published and then sold to the reading public. The speakers will be taking questions on Monday night and even doing a bit of one-on-one consultation, sharing what they’ve learned during their years in the publishing industry. (Sterry’s latest book, “Master of Ceremonies,” is pictured here.)
Odds are this workshop will draw a considerable crowd. But if you can’t squeeze into Watchung Booksellers’ intimate space, or you’re thinking a one-night workshop just isn’t enough, take heart: Sterry and Eckstut do private consulting.

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  1. There are 270,501 biographies and memoirs listed at amazon.com. Unless your name is an A-list celebrity, good luck getting yours sold to break-even or make a profit.

  2. One of the problems I’ve noticed with blogs and books alike is that so many people lately think their personal stories are worth recounting to others.
    They usually aren’t, however.

  3. I’m gonna write a book about marijuana smuggling between Naco and Bisbee in the 1970s.
    There will be elements of witchcraft, late night turquoise thefts from the old Dodge Phelps mine, fistfights at the Copper Queen and a half-way house for escapees from the Hare Krishna sect.

  4. I’d rather be like J. Peterman of Seinfeld fame. Pay someone else who’s more interesting (like Kramer) and adopt their stories as my own.

  5. Actually, MellonBrush, that sounds rather interesting. I’d at least read it at my local Borders, though I probably still wouldn’t buy it.

  6. We used to run our laundry over to Mexico(Naco) – there wasn’t a laundrette in Bisbee. The US border guards saw us cross every few days with duffle bags of laundry going in and coming out. They never stopped us once to see what was inside those bags..

  7. There will be elements of witchcraft, late night turquoise thefts from the old Dodge Phelps mine, fistfights at the Copper Queen and a half-way house for escapees from the Hare Krishna sect.
    And I would have succeeded if it weren’t for you meddling kids!

  8. Three scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, one banana, hot fudge, chopped nuts, whipped cream and a bright red maraschino cherry.
    End of story.

  9. banana split,
    I found your story very compelling. I believe I met a relative of yours whose story had one scoop each of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, with hot fudge and caramel.

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