Blog Tour for Times They Were A-Changing by Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire
Just in time for the holidays, Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire launch their anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s and '70s. The book is the perfect gift for opening discussions with friends and family members and illustrating what a powerful time the '60s and '70s truly were.
Forty-eight powerful stories and poems etch in vivid detail breakthrough moments experienced by women during the life-changing era that was the ’60s and ’70s. These women rode the sexual revolution with newfound freedom, struggled for identity in divorce courts and boardrooms, and took political action in street marches. They pushed through the boundaries, trampled the taboos, and felt the pain and joy of new experiences. And finally, here, they tell it like it was.
Through this collection of women’s stories, we celebrate the women of the ’60s and ’70s and the importance of their legacy.
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (Sept. 8, 2013)
Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s & ‘70s is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and She Writes Press and Indie Bound.
About the editors:
National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of four books: Don't Call Me Mother—A Daughter's Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, and a workbook The Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing. Her book Becoming Whole—Writing Your Healing Story was a finalist in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award. A speaker and award winning author, she co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing, coaching, and mentoring for memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. Visit her blog at http://memoriesandmemoirs.com.
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/TimesTheyWereAChanging
----------Interview by Renee Roberson
WOW: It's obvious while reading this book how much work must have gone into the writing, submissions and editing process. Can you take you take us through the making of this anthology? How did the idea emerge and how did you go about finding contributors for the book?
Kate: Linda Joy had wanted to do an anthology of the era for some time, but preferred to produce it as part of a team with professional colleagues who were as moved by the ’60s and ’70s as she was. It was at the Story Circle Network Conference in Austin, Texas, April 2012, where Linda Joy, Kate, and Amber’s minds and memories synchronized. Each of us brought years of experience in editing and publishing to the project and formed an editorial partnership to produce the book.
The anthology theme and subthemes were inspired by political and social history, but we were clear that we didn’t want essays or eyewitness accounts: “I was there at Woodstock…” We wanted to highlight the craft of memoir in creating a time, a place, and a feeling. We were curious to discover how women participated in key movements and events of the time, and how these experiences changed them. Once we developed our editorial guidelines, we were ready to solicit submissions.
Using the submittable.com online service, we combined a contest with an opportunity for publication. The contest allowed us to advertise in publications that featured contests, while the opportunity to be published appealed to a wider reach of writers. We placed ads in venues that catered to women’s writing and memoirs, including WOW! Women on Writing, our niche market, and placed two ads in Poets and Writers. Submissions started slowly and peaked at the deadline with almost 300 blind submissions from across the country.
WOW: Younger generations of readers (such as myself!) might think they won't be able to relate to the issues and topics in this book. Why do you think Times They Were A-Changing is an important read for adults born in the 1980s and 1990s?
Linda Joy: The future is built upon the progress and developments of the past. The ‘60s and '70s created a tsunami of social change and shifts in consciousness. What was acceptable in the past was no longer tolerable: racial prejudice and inequality, the brutality of war, and the idea that women had no voice and no control over their bodies. I’ve heard young women say, “I read about the ‘60s and ‘70s, but it’s just a few lines in a history book. I don’t really know what it was like.” In order to understand the power of those two decades to shift consciousness and political decisions, it’s also important to understand how the world was before all the changes. In this book, you learn how each writer came from where she was raised to become a part of something. The era evolved as each person’s participation helped to create it. The stories take you into the body and minds of each person. You taste the tear gas, smell the fear in the South, and tingle with the joy of freedom on the road.
WOW: I was excited to read essays by each of you in the book. All three of them were very powerful but also very different. How difficult was it to decide which of your own pieces to include in Times They Were A-Changing?
Amber: I had actually written a version of “Altamont” two years ago intending it to be included in my upcoming memoir, Not the Mother I Remember (to be released in January 2014). But I cut it from the memoir when I realized (admitted) it didn’t move the narrative forward. When we editors decided to include our own work in the anthology, I knew right away I’d found a home for this story.
Kate: In San Francisco, the ’70s ushered in many non-political movements that nevertheless sought social change though personal transformation. Though I was fortunate to live in San Francisco from the early ’60s on and experience much of that decade’s counterculture and political activism, I found the ’70s more to my taste. Fewer drugs, less violence held the promise of a peaceful dawning of the Age of Aquarius through conscious practice and spiritual direction.
However, that dream soon faded, as had the political, idealistic dreams of the ‘60s. Greedy, abusive cult leaders, gurus, and madmen attracted followers, true believers who were hungry for self-fulfillment and who gave all, their free will, even their lives to the cult, the Jonestown massacre being the most tragic—spawned in the SF Bay Area.
As submissions to the anthology came in, I noticed none from women who had direct experience of these cult-like groups, and I wanted to add that radical cultural dimension to the book. My vivid recollections of working within Werner Erhard seminar trainings (est) were a rich enough source, but I was hesitant, even afraid, to write about them. Such is the lingering power of a forceful personality. I was encouraged by my co-editors to develop “Getting It” and continue to write the essay as an authentic, first hand experience. How my understanding of est was finally resolved through intense Jungian dream work was a positive counter balance. I remembered that personal insight was a true joy: an inner vision without drugs or a mindless following.
Linda Joy: I had written some versions of “Baptist Girl” before, but was too embarrassed to develop it. This time, having a strict word count helped me to construct the piece so the reader could go back and forth in time to understand my dilemma with breaking away from the past while still being caught in it. The problem with the era was that many of us acted in ways we felt we were supposed to act, but we still hadn’t resolved our deeper issues. In order to understand the era as I experienced it, I have to write about where I came from and the kind of perpetual shock we were all in during those years of protest, violence, and opportunity. I came from a small town that was safe, quiet, and very conservative. The era took us so far away from our roots, it was like being on a 20-year, roller coaster ride. Great in many ways, and tragic in others.
WOW: Amber Lea, your essay “Altamont” is a great example of using rich and sensory details in memoir writing. Do you have any advice for writers struggling to express themselves in such a lyrical fashion, especially when describing events that happened years earlier?
Amber Lea: As my writing teacher and mentor, Lowell Cohn, used to say, “Slow down. Slow way down.” The key to remembering the sensory details central to your story is to focus on the key image—the one that has the most emotional resonance—and then, in your mind’s eye, begin to look around: what did you smell, taste, feel and hear in that moment? Remembering these details triggers additional memories. Also, focusing on your senses other than sight brings you into the physical, in-your-body facet of memory. And I believe that’s where the real power of any story resides.
WOW: Linda Joy, your essay “The Baptist Girl” paints a portrait of a young girl struggling to become a person with a voice to be reckoned with. Since then, you’ve made “finding your voice” your life’s work! You also wrote a blog post for the book discussing how writers can get past their fear of exposing themselves through memoir writing. How do you suggest writers take steps to do that without abandoning a project out of fear of repercussions?
Linda Joy: I still struggle with how to break past the chattering inner critic in my own work. Choose small pieces you can wrap your mind around and get them on the page. You have to tell yourself over and over again that this is your “sh--tty first draft"--thank you Anne Lamott! Keep your work private while you’re working on it. Don’t tell your family you’re writing a memoir. Write all the way through the first draft, which will allow the tough emotions to surface and give you room to be with yourself and your truths. After your feelings have been aired on the page, then you can see what needs to be edited or changed, and then decide how to handle the people you have put in the book. Every writer suffers with this, so you are not alone. Read about the explosions in Pat Conroy’s life after The Great Santini came out—and it was fiction. What made it fiction, he tells us, is that his father was more over the top violent than what he wrote. Every family is unique and only you can decide where your ethics are and how to handle your book and your relationships.
WOW: Kate, your bio talks about your discovery of self-actualization through mediation, yoga, Tai Chi, etc. Can you talk to us a little about how these practices have helped shaped and influence your writing over the years?
Kate: By the beginning of the 1970s, I had become a traditional storyteller, part of the folk art revival that included folksongs, blues, and jazz. It was a groundswell movement that merged in my mind with the other disciplines I pursued. Storytelling techniques in performance are similar to meditating out loud and draw from the universal archetypes espoused in Jungian theory. My storytelling practice was mostly confined to school library work in the San Francisco public elementary schools. Nevertheless, I was able to “hold the space” with only my voice and my inner concentration for audiences of large numbers of at risk, inner city students. Along the way, students learned the elements of story, could retell stories, act them out, and eventually read and write them.
Writing memoir is another way to form a storytelling bond with the listener/reader. The power of sharing through story is easily translated to the printed page. I continue to explore ways that a short memoir piece can combine with archetype to create a universal experience so that images become symbolic in a natural way—another layer of meaning.
WOW: I absolutely love the historical timelines you put together on the book blog under the topic of “themes.” One of the themes in the book is Second Wave Feminism. I’d like to ask each of you if there any women in particular who inspired you to stand up and embrace women’s rights, and what was it about them that inspired you the most?
Kate: Enlarging that question to include women who fought for human rights, and later became active in women’s rights, I have to list Joan Baez, Bettina Aptheker, and Angela Davis as three women who stood large for me.
Joan Baez was a powerful voice that reached millions early in the 60s, part of the coffee house scene, folk music, and poetry. When I first heard her plaintive voice in the song, “House of the Rising Sun,” I identified with its somber, minor chords, and bluesy rendering of the plait of the common prostitute. Along with my college roommates in San Francisco, we learned to play the chords on our shared guitar and sing the lyrics that to me were the first cry of feminism.
Bettina Aptheker was the co-leader of the Free Speech Movement in UC-Berkeley along with Mario Savio; she took the microphone near Sather Gate in such a commanding way that she became an immediate legend to me, a small, articulate young woman who would not back down. Her later speeches against the war in Vietnam and at the trial of Angela Davis were an inspiration.
Angela Davis exemplified all that was powerful in a woman activist: brilliant, beautiful, scholarly, willing to risk her career and fight against a system of control that spanned her academic life, civil rights, and women’s rights. She was the ultimate feminist. All three of these women were historically connected, centered in the SF East Bay.
When my time came to attend UC-Berkeley graduate school in ‘69-‘70, I did not hesitate to participate in the protests against the war. When the campus closed with a student strike in spring 1970 with the invasion of Cambodia, I was one of four leaders (some called us the Four Horsemen) who organized classes off site, rewrote the curriculum for Library Studies graduate school, and sponsored activities in public libraries. We put our degree and tuition on the line to advocate within and without the university for more relevant library services. Of course, 90 percent of my peers were women.
Linda Joy: I loved the folk singer women too—Joan Baez and Judy Collins especially. By the ‘70s, I was reading Anais Nin, whose journals were all the rage, and though we know now she edited them, they were an example of the courage it takes to write openly of very personal things. From Ms. Magazine, which one of my boyfriends tore into shreds, I learned about ideas, power, and the possibility of a fine-tuned political discussion that assumed women had a voice worth listening to. I didn’t know or believe that then. I was taught to be quiet and not make waves, but the era, and the arts, told us we could. Artists were important to me: Eva Hesse’s sculpture, Joan Mitchell’s huge canvases. “The Dinner Party” sculptures by Judy Chicago were mind blowing and brave. The poetry of Denise Levertov and Adrienne Rich changed my life.
WOW: What are some of your favorite memoirs from other writers that you’ve read in the past five years?
Kate: In researching this project over the last two years, I found these three memoirs to be unforgettable—in particular how these gifted, lovely women were often overshadowed by their male counterparts, husbands, or lovers: Joan Baez, And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir, Deborah Santana, Space between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart. Grace Slick, Somebody to Love? A Rock-and-Roll Memoir.
Linda Joy: I inhale books and read everything from fiction, especially historical fiction—based on true stories—to memoirs. I’m reading Pat Conroy’s Death of Santini now, and loved all of Mary Karr’s memoirs, Virginia Woolf’s Moments of Being, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
----------Blog Tour Dates
Monday, Nov. 25 (Today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire and enter to win a copy of the book.
Tuesday, Nov. 26 @ All Things Audry
Learn more about the consciousness-raising movement of the 60s and 70s with this guest post by one of the contributors of Times They Were A-Changing.
Wednesday, Nov. 27 @ Words by Webb
Stop by Words by Webb for a review of Times They Were A-Changing.
Monday, Dec. 2 @ The Memory Writers Network
Jerry Waxler from Memory Writers Network interviews the editors of the anthology Times They Were A-Changing.
Tuesday, Dec. 3 @ Choices
Immerse yourself in the world of 60s Beat culture, poets, folksingers and coffeehouses as part of the Times They Were A-Changing blog tour.
Friday, Dec. 6 @ The Literary Ladies
Find out how the anthology Times They Were A-Changing can engage discussions with younger generations with this guest post.
Monday, Dec. 9 @ Slay the Writer
Read about what Author Trisha Slay thought of Times They Were A-Changing and enter the book giveaway!
Tuesday, Dec. 10 @ Renee's Pages
Want to read an excerpt from Times They Were A-Changing? Renee Roberson will feature one on her blog Renee's Pages and give away one copy of the ebook.
Wednesday, Dec. 11 @ Words by Webb
Want to learn five things about publishing and writing for anthologies? Jodi interviews the editors of Times They Were A-Changing at Words by Webb.
Thursday, Dec. 12 @ Memoir Writer's Journey
Visit Memoir Writer's Journey to read a guest post on "Lessons We Learned from the 60s and 70s That are Important for Women Today." Also, enter to win a copy of the book!
Monday, Dec. 16 @ Women's Writing Circle
Susan Weidener shares her thoughts on the storytelling found in Times They Were A-Changing on her blog.
Tuesday, Dec. 17 @ Found Between the Covers
Stop by the Found Between the Covers blog to read Sherrey's review of Times They Were A-Changing.
Wednesday, Dec. 18 @ CMash Reads
The ladies discuss what the legacy of the 60s and 70s was for women and how it relates to women today as part of the Times They Were A-Changing blog tour. Stop by for the chance to win your own copy of the book!
Thursday, Dec. 19 @ Thoughts in Progress
Read a guest post on the "Age of Aquarius: New Age Disciplines and Consciousness Raising" as part of the Times They Were A-Changing blog tour. Also, enter to win your own copy of the book!
Friday, Dec. 20 @ Suzanne Purvis
Suzanne Purvis hosts the editors of Times They Were A-Changing as they give you an insider's perspective on "The Making of an Anthology" on her blog.
To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.
Get involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Labels: Amber Lea Starfire, anthologies, essays, Kate Farrell, legacy of women in history, Linda Joy Myers, memoir-writing, She Writes Press, Times They Were A'Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s