‘Writing Women’s Lives’ memoir writing discussion

Interested in writing your memoir? Join established writers, Marcelle Soviero and Catherine Onyemelukwe, as they share their processes and advice at “Writing Women’s Lives,” Friday, March 20, at noon, at the Westport Public Library. The event is free and open to the public; advance registration is not required.

Marcelle Soviero is both the Editor-in-Chief of Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers — the largest literary magazine for and about mothers — and award-winning author of An Iridescent Life: Essays on Motherhood and Stepmotherhood (Amazon, June, 2012). She’s also the co-editor of This is Childhood: Book and Journal (Erielle Media, June, 2014). Since Soviero purchased Brain, Child two years ago, she has expanded its reach through social media, special editions and digital products. Brain, Child subscriptions are available via www.brainchildmag.com.

Additionally, Soviero is a personal essay/memoir writing instructor at Westport Writers’ Workshop (www.westportwritersworkshop.com), Emerson College, Wilton Continuing Education, Hospice and via her private coaching practice in Wilton. Soviero edited Onyemelukwe’s memoir and reviews hundreds of womens’ personal essay submissions on a weekly basis.

“As a writer, teacher and editor, I look for honesty and insight in a piece of creative nonfiction. Personal narratives employ the same techniques as fiction, including strong scene, dialog and character development,” said Soviero.

In addition to her book, Soviero has published multiple essays; her work has appeared in The New York Times, National Public Radio, Salon, The Huffington Post, Babble, Literary Mama and Eating Well, among others. Her memoir, An Iridescent Life, is a collection of stories that highlight the joys of being both a mother and stepmother and is available on Amazon. Soviero can be reached for appearances or private writing/editing coaching through her author website, www.marcellesoviero.com.

An accomplished essayist, Soviero will dole out tips on how what separates the ordinary from more polished work. She will give specifics on getting started through journaling and writing prompts, editing and submission strategies. Soviero will also deliver pointers on what catches an editor’s attention in regard to memoir. Attendees will come away with an insider’s view to writing their lives in a way that is captivating, marketable and ready for publication.

Westport’s Catherine Onyemelukwe, who recently penned and published Nigeria Revisited: My Life and Loves Abroad (Peace Corps Writers/Amazon, November, 2014), will share her memoir writing journey at “Writing Women’s Lives.” Onyemelukwe is an American who spent 24 years in Nigeria and wrote a book to capture her unique experience.

Onyemelukwe joined the Peace Corps in 1962 and before long, her life was forever changed. She met her future husband, a Nigerian named Clement, during her second year on the job and fell in love with both him and the country. She remained in Nigeria for over two decades, had three children, taught, launched a business, co-founded Nigerwives and was active in the arts. A once naive Peace Corps volunteer, Onyemelukwe morphed into an experienced educator, parent and entrpreneur.

“Nigeria is my adopted country — I feel a great affinity for both the people and culture, Even today, it’s an integral part of my life. An ‘honorary’ Nigerian, I welcome the opportunity to share my stories and memoir writing tactics,” said Onyemelukwe.

Now living in Westport with her husband of 50 years, Onyemelukwe is still active with Peace Corps alumni groups and visits Nigeria on a regular basis, as two of her children reside there. She is also fluent in Igbo, her husband’s native toungue, and one of the three major languages in Nigeria. 

During “Writing Women’s Lives,” Onyemelukwe will share suggestions on choosing content, “workshopping” chapters, memoir structure, working with an editor and publishing options. Budding women memoirists will leave both informed and inspired, prepared to embark on documenting their life stories with a newfound purpose.

In addition to Nigeria Revisited, Onyemelukwe has been published in The New York Times, Brain, Child Magazine, Love on the Road 2013: Twelve Tales of Love and Travel (Malinki Press, November, 2013) and the Friends of Nigeria newsletter. She also writes a blog and is available for speaking engagements and book group/library visits. Onyemelukwe can be reached through her website at www.catherineonyemelukwe.com, and her memoir may be purchased in print or digital format on Amazon.

A question and answer session and book signings will follow the memoir writing discussion. The event will also feature informative handouts as well as favors for participants and a writer’s basket door prize.

Since 1886, the library has been devoted to enriching the intellectual and creative lives of the residents of Westport. Overlooking the scenic Saugatuck River, it is located at 20 Jesup Road, Westport. For more information on “Writing Women’s Lives,” visit westportlibrary.org.

Writers, Marcelle Soviero and Catherine Onyemeluke. Aline Weiller photo.

Writers, Marcelle Soviero and Catherine Onyemeluke. Aline Weiller photo.

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