Story Circle Network
Story Circle Network

Stories From the Heart III

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Program / Schedule
Open Mike
Story Wall / Scrapbook /
Heart-to-Heart Table

Keynote Speakers

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Brochure (download)

Works of Heart Marketplace

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Wise Words
from the Heart


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Program / Schedule

Friday, February 3
12pm Registration opens
1:30-3:30pm Optional Pre-Conference Workshop with Linda Joy Myers, $25
4-5pm Conference Welcome session: Patricia Pando, SCN President
5:30-7:30pm Dutch-treat dinner, Red Lion Hotel restaurant
7:30pm Keynote Speech: When Strong Women Tell Their Truths, Rosemary Daniell
(Dessert reception following; included in registration fee)

Saturday, February 4
8:30am Registration opens.
Hospitality Suite open (check registration desk for times)
9-10:30am Session 1
10:30-11am ***Coffee/Tea Break***
11am-12:30pm Session 2
12:30-2pm Lunch (included in registration fee)
Inspirational music and remarks by Susan Lincoln of Hilde Girls
2-3:30pm ***Free time***
3:30pm ***Drinks & light refreshments***
3:30-5pm Session 3
5-8pm free time; Dutch-treat dinner, Red Lion Hotel restaurant and other nearby restaurants
We will have several "Special Interest" tables
8-10pm After-dinner Open Mike: Storytelling from the Heart , Lisa Shirah-Hiers, Mistress of Revels

Sunday, February 5
9-10:30am Session 4
10:30-11am ***Coffee/Tea Break***
11am-12:30pm Session 5
12:30-2pm Lunch (included in registration fee)
Speaker: Truth and Invention: When Strong Women Tell Tales, Susan Wittig Albert

Major Speakers

Our Friday-night keynote speaker, Rosemary Daniell, is known as one of the best writing coaches in the country. The author of The Woman Who Spilled Words All Over Herself: Writing and Living the Zona Rosa Way, she is the originator and leader of the Zona Rosa™, a series of creative writing workshops in Savannah and Atlanta, and cities throughout the world, as profiled in People and Southern Living magazine.

Her revolutionary memoir, Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex and Suicide in the Deep South, won the 1999 Palimpsest Prize for a most-requested out-of-print book. Along with her second memoir, Sleeping with Soldiers, it was a forerunner of the current memoir trend. She is the author of three other books of poetry and prose; her recent collection of essays is Confessions of a (Female) Chauvinist.

Her latest book, Secrets of the Zona Rosa: How Writing (and Sisterhood) Can Change Women's Lives, will be out in May, 2006.

Her features and reviews have appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, New York Woman, Mother Jones, Travel & Leisure, The New York Times Book Review, and other publications. She has appeared on such radio and television shows as CNN Health, The Diane Roehm Show, Larry King, Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Hour Magazine, and Merv Griffin. Among her many awards are two NEA grants in literature, one in poetry, another in fiction.
(taken from Rosemary's website,

Susan Lincoln began her career in opera and vocal performance at UT Austin, but soon branched into a broader understanding of music as a source of healing power. After a pivotal experience at the German Abbey of 12th century mystic and composer, Hildegard of Bingen, Susan committed herself to helping women heal through the power of their own voices. She returned to Austin and founded the Hilde Girls, spirit-song-circles of women she leads through Hildegard's music and healing wisdom. A gifted and charismatic teacher, Susan facilitates workshops, leads retreats and works with individuals using sound and vibration to heal. She has taught on the faculty of The School of Conscious Harmony, Sedona, and The Journey School, New Orleans. To learn more about Susan and her work visit

Susan Wittig Albert, Ph.D., our Sunday lunch speaker, is a former English professor and university dean and vice-president. The recipient of many teaching awards and fellowships, she is the author of numerous books for young adults and the best-selling author of three mystery series: the China Bayles herbal mysteries, the Robin Paige Victorian mysteries, and (her latest) the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. She is also the author of Work of Her Own and Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul's Story. In 1997, she founded the Story Circle Network. Susan's website is

Patricia Pando, our Friday afternoon Conference Welcome session speaker, is the President of the Story Circle board of directors. She lives in Georgia, where she leads two Older Women's Legacy Circle (OWL-Circle) groups. Patricia writes a weekly column on food and local history called "Stirring Up Memories," for the Bainbridge GA Post-Searchlight, and is a contributing editor of the Story Circle Journal.

Preliminary Program *

Friday Afternoon Pre-Conference Workshop
(There's a $25 fee for this workshop. Please pre-register.)

* Main ballroom: House as Dream, House as Mirror of the Soul

Linda Joy Myers, Richmond CA
What house do you dream of from your childhood? How do houses that you have inhabited reflect your development from young girl to adolescent and adult woman. Where did you hide? What spaces did you make your own? What did you witness in the houses you lived in, that live in you even now?

In this experiential workshop, we will reenter the houses that gave our lives and our identities meaning, whether it is a grand estate or humble chicken coop, your grandmother's farm house or the apartment you grew up in. Bring your memories and the desire to explore your memories from the inside out, using crayons and storytelling. Remember, the walls have memories too. What would the walls of your houses remember of you? What stories are still hidden in the closet that you want to write and share?

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D. is the author of Don't Call Me Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother Daughter Abandonment and Becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story. Linda has been a therapist in Berkeley for twenty-five years, and teaches memoir-as-healing workshops in the Bay Area and nationally. She is President of the California Writers Club, Marin branch, and Vice-President of Women's National Book Association, SF. Excerpts from her memoir have won several prizes, including first prize at the Jack London Writing Contest. Her books are available on-line and in book stores. Please visit her website:


Session 1: 9-10:30am

  1. Circles of Creativity:
    * Circling Up: Intro to the Story Circle Process:
    Lisa Shirah-Hiers, Austin TX
    Is writing hard for you? Do you have trouble getting started, finding time and following through? Are you afraid you aren't "good" enough? Come see how story circles work, and experience first hand how they make it easier to establish a writing practice, discover your true voice, and keep it flowing.

  2. How Do I Do That?:
    * Blogs & Life-Writing: Finding Our Voices On-line:
    Susan Albert, Bertram TX; Joan Gelfand, San Francisco CA; Linda Joy Myers, Richmond CA
    Many are using the magic of the Internet to record and share their life stories. Hear how SCN members are using blogs (web logs) to piece together the fragments of experience into personal story, gaining a new awareness of their inner and outer lives and providing themselves and their readers an intimate view of life-in-progress.

    Calling all SCN Bloggers! We're collecting links to SCN weblogs for a page of weblinks we are assembling, and selecting a panel of bloggers, to discuss blogging as a medium for life-writing. If you're a blogger, please email Susan Albert at, with a link to your blog. Please let Susan know how long you've been blogging, the focus/purpose of your blog, and whether you're planning to attend the conference.

  3. Reclaiming Women's Wisdom:
    * Picture This! :
    Ellen Collins, Vienna VA
    Through reading of children's memoir picture books, participants will find springboards for their own memoir writing.

  4. Myriad Methods of Storytelling:
    * Metaphor, Paradox & Poetry:
    Lianne Mercer, Fredericksburg TX
    Through writing exercises, participants will discover aspects of stories they want to tell, experience and discuss their willingness to trust the process and live with mystery, learn how compassion and humor help tell the story, plus how poetic devices of language enrich their connection to their stories.

Session 2: 11am-12:30pm

  1. Circles of Creativity:
    * Framing Your Story: Creative Book Design:
    Jane Ross, Austin TX
    As writers, we give little thought to the physical structure of a book—it's simply a functional container for words. What if we could create a structure of our own book that was a work of creative expression, which enhanced the story and would become a family treasure? In this session we'll imagine, touch, and learn about the creative possibilities of the physical book structure.

  2. How Do I Do That?:
    * Marketing Your Book: Charting the Promotional Universe:
    Helen Ginger, Austin TX
    Don't wait until you've finished your book to plan its marketing. For those looking to sell their book to more than just the family, they'll discover the many niches of their book, learn how to target their promotions, and build their platform.

  3. Reclaiming Women's Wisdom:
    * Roots of Our Beliefs:
    Fran Reynolds, Columbia MO
    Core beliefs give our lives meaning and something around which to build a sense of identity. What events, what people, what experiences have caused us to believe as we do? As we write we will discover the origins of these beliefs, question them and perhaps truly be able to say, "This I believe."

  4. Myriad Methods of Storytelling:
    * Family Ties: Writing Family History:
    Pat Flathouse, Austin TX; Gwen McMath, Corpus Christi TX
    This workshop will emphasize the importance of writing stories based on participants' family history through discussion, sharing of materials, and writing exercises.

Session 3: 3:30-5pm

  1. Circles of Creativity:
    * Into the Sunshine:
    Patricia Pando, Bainbridge GA
    In creating the stories of our lives as in creating a painting, we use many hues—colors bright and muted, sunshine and shadow. In this session we will focus on sunshine moments of our lives as we bring moments of happiness, joy and tenderness to our stories. We'll share smiles and more.

  2. How Do I Do That?:
    * Luck of the Draw:
    Joyce Boatright, Houston TX
    When one's Muse is frustratingly silent, using a deck of writing prompts is a creative way to awaken her and arouse her curiosity. The Luck of the Draw is a writing strategy to "get the juices going," and can be used by writing facilitators/teachers when they lead groups/classes, or by individuals as they face the blank page. My goal is to remind life-writers that the task of writing can be playful, joyful and fearless—much like a friendly card game.

  3. Reclaiming Women's Wisdom:
    * Writing the Stories That Changed Us:
    Elsa McKeithan, Winston-Salem NC
    Writing memoir, we start by looking backwards into our lives while actually looking for something that will carry us forward. This workshop focuses on the elusive gem of great value, the moments that have changed us. Telling the stories that really matter is simple when you know the "secret formula."

  4. Myriad Methods of Storytelling:
    * What Does My Voice Sound Like?:
    Michia Guy, Pinetop AZ
    Using some innovative tools and techniques, we will discover our true writing voice and learn to develop the voices from which we can best tell our stories. We'll also take a look at our blocks and creative ways to get around them.

  5. Panel Discussions:
    * Older Women's Legacy (OWL) Circles:
    Pat Flathouse, Austin TX (former OWL-Circle Program director and author of Your Life, Your Story)
    Discussion of starting, managing, & facilitating OWL-Circles. Panelists:
    • Penny Appleby, Austin TX
    • Judith Helburn, Austin TX
    • Jane Ross, Austin TX


Session 4: 9-10:30am

  1. Circles of Creativity:
    * Daddy Was A Vampire & Other Family Stories:
    Becky Marshall, Dallas TX
    As beginning writers/longtime storytellers, we all have to begin somewhere. The discussion group will come up with answers and suggestions as to how we can get started. At end of meeting, participants will write an opening to their life story. Participants will gain confidence in that they have a story to tell, how to get started, form an outline, get through writer's block. Will also reinforce that Story Circles are an effective tool in bouncing ideas off others and utilizing Story Circle prompts.

  2. How Do I Do That?:
    * Self-Publishing: Can I Really Do It Myself? :
    Linda Joy Myers, Richmond CA
    The publishing world is a thicket of conventions, competition, and confusion. However there are many ways to bring your work into the world&mdashtraditional publishing, small presses, and self-publishing. If you want to self-publish, it is important to understand how the industry works, the tools needed to get a book into the book world, and what hidden traps to avoid. In this workshop you will receive an overview about creating your own publishing company, legalities and realities, and how to work with distributors, bookstores, and publicity to shine with your book.

  3. Reclaiming Women's Wisdom:
    * Who Is That Lady with the Tattoo?:
    Judith Helburn, Austin TX
    Many of us remember when tattoo meant circus, motorcycles, sailor or marine. Nowadays, it could be our grandchild, daughter, or even ourself. Find out how it feels to have a tattoo [temporary] and write about your feelings. Look, laugh and write.

  4. Myriad Methods of Storytelling:
    * Moving & Writing: A Dialogue with the Body:
    Barbara Meyer, Austin TX
    In this culture, many women have learned that their bodies need to be managed and controlled rather than nurtured and loved. In this session, we will use gentle movement and guided writing exercises to reflect on our relationship with, and develop a loving connection to, the bodies we have today.

Session 5: 11am-12:30pm

  1. Circles of Creativity:
    * Writing to the Center: Spiritual Memoirs:
    Nan Phifer, Eugene OR
    Participants will be guided to identify the most meaningful experiences, people, and places in their life and explore a process that sparks spontaneous first drafts and elicits constructive responses from listeners.

  2. How Do I Do That?:
    * Playing with Points of View:
    Mary Daniels Brown, Ballwin MO
    Everyone's story is unique. In this workshop we'll look at the importance of the individual's perception of experience and how that perception drives the telling of the story. We'll discover how and why the narrative eye becomes the narrative I.

  3. Reclaiming Women's Wisdom:
    * Writing to Heal:
    Sharon Bray, Menlo Park CA
    Writing is an art form that belongs to all of us. Not only does it allow us to explore our creativity, it can heal our spirits as well. This experiential workshop will explore the healing power of writing together and sharing our stories.

  4. Myriad Methods of Storytelling:
    * Cooking Up Characters: Making Stories from Recipes:
    Bonnie Watkins, Austin TX
    Practice capturing the characters and history behind Aunt Ruth's crayfish gumbo. Bring 5 favorite handed-down recipes or we'll remember the stories and find the recipes later.

  5. Panel Discussions:
    * Want to Start a Circle? Reading, Writing, & Internet Circle How-Tos
    Patricia Pando (Chair: President, Board of Directors)
    Discussion of starting, managing, & facilitating reading/writing circles. Panelists:
    • Joyce Boatright, Houston TX
    • Karen Hett, Georgetown TX
    • Rebecca Roberts, Austin TX
    • Lisa Shirah-Hiers, Austin TX
    • Linda Wisniewski, Doylestown PA

Story-Telling From the Heart: Open Mike
Saturday Night, Live,
in Austin Texas

It's Saturday night in Austin TX—what would you like to do after you've enjoyed a fine dinner at one of Austin's many great restaurants? Well, you might take in a film, or visit Austin's disco district (the River City is widely known as the Live Music Capital of the World).

Or we could all hang out together and swap stories.

Swap stories?

Hey, what a great idea! After all, isn't that what Story Circle is all about? And who has more stories to swap than women—women who have loved and laughed and cried and succeeded and failed and survived and, yes, triumphed! Creative, canny, crafty, clever, courageous women. Women who have lived ordinary, extraordinary, and sometimes downright outrageous lives!

So for Saturday night's entertainment, we offer you—ta da! (a flourish of trumpets and rattle of drums, please)—an open mike!

And all you have to bring is you, and your story. Maybe it's a piece you've already shared with your Story Circle, or a poem or two that you've just finished, or a short autobiographical fiction piece. Maybe it's a story to be sung, or danced (if you need music, let us know ahead of time). Or perhaps you'd like to bring a piece of art that you've made—pottery, painting, textile, whatever—and tell us how and why it is part of your story. The sky's the limit, gals, and the only thing we have to fear (as some famous man said once) is fear itself. So let's see how many different stories, and how many different ways to tell a story, we can all come up with.

To give each story-teller a chance to participate, we'll divide up into as many as 9 groups - each in a separate meeting room. We ask you to limit your turn at the mike to five minutes. And in order to help our Mistress of Revels, Lisa Shirah-Hiers, to do a good job, we'll also ask you to sign up for a turn at the mike when you pick up your registration materials. Please sign up before 6pm on Saturday. And please bring a copy of your piece to post on the Story Wall (see -- and plan to email it to us, as well, for sharing with the attendees!

Remember that wonderful '60s song that began "When you come to San Francisco, be sure and wear flowers in your hair"?

When you come to Austin, Texas, be sure to bring a story from your heart. We're eager to hear it, y'all!

*Session topics are still tentative.