1:1 Memoir Coaching with Marilyn

What is a memoir coach?

A memoir coach is a book coach who wears many hats: mentor, coach, writing teacher, developmental editor, encourager, accountability buddy, project manager, deep listener, trusted friend.

Every memoir coach has their own style.

What’s my 1:1 coaching style?

I deliver in-depth feedback with a loving touch. I am a stickler for craft AND I understand the insidious ways shame and silence can keep a story’s deepest, most vulnerable truth hovering beneath the surface of the page. My feedback is always in service of this truth, and I will gently but fiercly push you to go deeper. I will not just say, “Go deeper.” I will provide you with thoughtful suggestions for bringing this deeperness to the page.

Here’s the nutshell version of how I work with writers:

  • I give you in-line feedback on your pages as well as an additional editorial letter that summarizes the bigger editorial picture. We then meet on a coaching call (Zoom) to discuss your pages and determine your Next Steps. We meet every other week.
  • I ask questions to help you find the story that wants to be told. I hold space on our call for your story to emerge. I consider this space–and your story–sacred. Inevitably we laugh; sometimes we cry. Good tears, the holy kind that accompany truth.
  • I provide craft lessons, suggested readings, and writing assignments as needed to help you hone your craft and write your memoir forward month in and month out.
  • I work with clients for months, often years, to help them through every stage of their memoir journey.

If you would like to explore 1:1 memoir coaching with me, click the button below and fill out my Client Intake Form. Once I receive it, I’ll be in touch!

Before I started working 1:1 with Marilyn on my memoir, I had been writing almost every day and met weekly with a wonderful writing group (all fiction writers). But still I was going in circles. I’m not an MFA graduate. I’m a 60-year-old nurse, and I didn’t know the difference between scene and narration, the arc of my narrator, where my story began, or where it would end. Unclear about my memoir’s larger point, I wandered the pages with multiple metaphors, unrelated backstories, and a lot of frustration. But I didn’t understand why. Then I met Marilyn.

Fierce in her devotion to my work, Marilyn asks incredible questions to get to the heart of every scene, and she helps me bring my narrator’s emotional truth to the page. Within the safe container of her coaching style, my writing voice emerges more courageously. Incredibly organized, she remembers small details of scenes and recalls them for me as I move forward.

When I receive Marilyn’s comments on my writing packets every other week, I have a “date night” with myself. I pour a glass of wine and then I pour over her insights, thoughtful questions, suggestions for revision. In between our coaching calls, I share my ahas, craft questions, successes, and frustrations in my 1:1 classroom. She responds with love, compassion, and support.

In less than a year, I finished the first draft of my memoir. I know how my story begins and where it ends. I understand my protagonist’s inner desires, her obstacles, fears, and her arc of transformation. I will continue to work with Marilyn on my first full-length memoir revision.

Personally, I have excavated aspects of myself I had long hidden away. I did not know when I began my memoir that I was writing a story of reclaiming my Soul. Now that I do, I am a better person, a more aware spouse, a better writer.

Jackie Levin

Holistic Nurse | Wellness Coach | Writer

Ways to Work 1:1 with Me

Claim Your Why

Why must you write this story? is Step 1 in the Map Your Memoir program. This foundational step can crack your entire memoir wide open.

When a memoir writer is asked why they must tell their story, it’s not uncommon for them to say, initially, I want to help others who are going through what I went through or I want to raise awareness about my subject. These are excellent reasons to write a memoir but they are not deep enough reasons to sustain the writing of a book.

Every memoir has an external story–what happened–and an internal story–your narrator’s deeper emotional truth. This internal story holds personal meaning for you, and it is here, at the level of emotional truth, that your deep-level why resides. Defining this why helps you to write from a deeper truth and gives you the courage and clarity to keep going.

Claim Your Why is an excellent first step to take if you are not sure whether you are writing a narrative memoir or a nonfiction book with memoir elements; if you’ve been working on your memoir for a long time and want to clarify what your story holds for you; if you feel “stuck” in your writing–you ache to write your story but can’t seem to get the words on the page.

This is a 2-week program. It includes my written feedback on your Why and a 60-minute coaching call.

Fee: $600

Interested in this program? Fill out the Intake Form below and I will be in touch!

Map Your Memoir

Create a roadmap for your entire memoir that helps you see your story from the inside out.

Map Your Memoir begins with Step 1: Why must you write this story? and builds on this foundational question with a series of additional steps. Together these steps help you to envision the breadth and depth of your memoir–from its larger point to its external plot to its internal arc of change; from its ideal audience to the conversation your memoir will step into once it’s out in the world.

Map Your Memoir is adapted from Author Accelerator’s Blueprint for a Book and uses Jennie Nash’s Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out as our text. Because narrative memoir follows the same principles of story that apply to a novel, these steps are easily adapted to memoir. Alongside the text, I provide additional examples particular to memoir.

This is an excellent program to jump into if you’re just beginning to write your memoir, if you’ve begun your memoir but have been away from it for a while, or if you’ve written a draft of your memoir and need a clear path forward. You’ll come away with a “road map” that will guide your first draft or revision.

This is a 10-week program. It includes my written feedback on 5 packets of your Map Your Memoir work and 5 60-minute coaching calls.

Fee: 1 payment of $3000 or 3 payments of $1025.

Note: Some writers need longer than 10 weeks to map their memoir. This is especially true for writers who’ve written a draft and are using Map Your Memoir as a revision tool. At the end of 10 weeks, writers have the option to purchase an extension to this program to meet their needs.

Interested in this program? Fill out the Intake Form below and I will be in touch!

1:1 Memoir Coaching

Write your memoir forward with a trusted coach who specializes in the craft of memoir and knows how to coax a hidden story to the page.

writing sisters

Whether you’re writing a first draft or embarking on a revision, here’s where you write your memoir forward.

In this program you submit packets of your writing. Each packet consists of up to 6,250 words, which is industry equivalent of 25 pages. I respond to your writing with in-line comments in Track Changes and an additional editorial letter that summarizes the global needs of each packet. We then meet on a coaching call (Zoom) to discuss your pages and establish your Next Steps. We meet every other week. In additional to developmental feedback, I provide craft lessons, suggested readings, and writing assignments to help you grow as a memoirist.

As a memoir coach I am very hands-on and take your story and its deeper emotional truth very seriously. I hold space for your story to emerge, and I ask questions to help you find its deeper meaning. There’s nothing I love more than to witness the moment a client has an “aha” and a piece of their entire story clicks into place. These moments of consciousness are quite common on our coaching calls, and I consider them to be sacred, the holy realm of your story and your voice.

This is a 6-month (24-week) program. It includes my written feedback on 12 packets of your writing and 12 60-minute coaching calls.

Fee: 1 payment of $7500 or 6 payments of $1275

Note: The duration of this program can be adapted to meet your needs.

Interested in this program? Fill out the Intake Form below and I will be in touch!

Working with Marilyn 1:1 has been a life-changing experience for my writing. Before working with Marilyn, I’d spent years floundering on a draft of a memoir. While I’d made some progress, I needed support with the overall structure of the book and the motivation to keep going. With Marilyn’s guidance, I was able to solidify a working draft of the structure, which allowed me to move forward with the story. After previously working on a draft for more than six years, with Marilyn’s guidance, I completed a full manuscript in six months.

Marilyn is truly gifted when it comes to seeing the truth of the story and helping to bring that truth to the page. Throughout the process, Marilyn’s encouragement and insightful feedback have been invaluable. She’s helped take this story to deeper levels by identifying the heart of each section and chapter. The final manuscript will be much fuller and far beyond what it would have been without her guidance.

As I head into the revision process, I look forward to applying Marilyn’s thoughtful comments and suggestions as I continue working with her. She is an absolute joy to work with, and I’m immensely grateful to have her guidance on this writing journey.

Maurene Hinds

Author | Instructor

Full Manuscript Review

This developmental edit focuses on story development for your completed manuscript.

Congratulations on completing a draft of your memoir! Woo-hoo! Now it’s time to hand it off to a memoir coach who can provide specific insights on elements of story, structure, narrative drive, pacing, arc of change, scene, cause-and-effect trajectory, story logic, character development, and emotional depth and resonance. When I do a manuscript review, I wear my hat as a developmental editor to provide a big picture evaluation as well as chapter-by-chapter insights.

A full manuscript review includes in-line comments on your manuscript as well as a thorough editorial letter that summarizes the manuscripts strengths, its needs, and detailed next steps to write forward with revision. This package includes a 75-minute coaching call and a 30-minute follow-up call.

Manuscript evaluations take 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer, and are scheduled several months out. Priority for manuscript evaluations goes to women who have  written their draft with Marilyn in her 1:1 Memoir Coaching program.

Fee: Starts at $3000

Interested in this program? Fill out the Intake Form below and I will be in touch! 

After I finished the first, messy draft of my memoir, I spent more than a year letting it gather virtual dust on my hard drive. I knew that the manuscript had a lot of weaknesses, but I was overwhelmed by the scope of the work that needed to be done and I wasn’t sure how to move forward with addressing the manuscript’s biggest problems. Working with Marilyn through the manuscript evaluation process has been a revelation. With clarity and kindness she quickly identified the core threads of my narrative arc and helped me to see more clearly the work that needed to be done in revision to strengthen the memoir. I was left with fresh insights including new ideas for the opening and closing scenes of my memoir and my first real understanding of how to utilize the (many) scenes of backstory that I had drafted and then lumped all together at the front of my memoir. In addition to these insights, she left me with a clear list of next steps which have allowed me to tackle the next phase of my revision with confidence. In the months since, I have come back to her manuscript evaluation letter again and again, reading and re-reading her words to help keep me oriented to the truth of my memoir whenever I feel myself starting to wander off course.
Jessica Ruprecht

Cambridge, MA

A Word about Courage

“Voice is courage.” ~Dani Shapiro


A book-length memoir is not written overnight. For most of us, it’s not written in six months. Or in nine months. Or in a year. That’s because writing a memoir is a journey of discovery: through the act of writing, you discover the meaning at the heart of your story. Through the memoir writing process, you begin to see your story through new eyes. Like any process of conscious awareness, it takes time to see your story anew. It also takes courage.

In her book, I Thought It Was Just Me: Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame, Brene Brown writes: “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor–the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ ”

No wonder Dani Shapiro says, “Voice is courage.”

Heart courage. 

One of my favorite posters portrays a colorful quilt peopled by women from all walks of life. Some of the women are smiling, some frowning, others glaring. Bold yellow letters across the top of the poster read: The River of Women’s Courage Runs Deep.

In the decades that I have been meeting my voice on the page and holding space for other women to recover their voice from silence, I have learned a thing or two about courage. I have learned that courage is the seat of your voice, and that claiming your voice is claiming your courage. I have learned that writing returns you to your courage, and your courage keeps you writing.

Deep writing is born of deep courage. When a woman dips her pen into the river of her own deep courage, her voice becomes a truth that graces this world.

I cannot wait to read your brave words. YOU are worth writing for.

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