Episode 99: Goodbye, Hello! Tom Barbash on ‘The Dakota Winters’

Tom Barbash & Laura Fraser
Tom Barbash (center) with Paul Harding and Laura Fraser.

“Where were you when you heard John Lennon was killed?” It’s a familiar question to people of a certain age, but Gen-Xers will not be the only ones fascinated by Tom Barbash’s early-’80s New York City flashback, The Dakota WintersWith veteran journalist and memoirist Laura Fraser as guest host, GrottoPod Episode 99 finds Barbash talking about his childhood in NYC’s Upper West Side and the process behind turning the biggest names of the late 19th century into his novel’s central players. “I wanted to say something new and true about John,” says Barbash. “I had to not just look at the glamour but look at … strengths and failings.” Note: Mature content.

Episode 27: Laura Fraser On Turning Travel Into Books

Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser is, among other things, a best-selling memoirist; an instinctive muckraking journalist; a celebrated travel writer; the founder of Shebooks, a publishing imprint dedicated to women authors; and a Grotto O.G. (Original Gangsta). This week she joins the GrottoPod to discuss her travels and travails, mentors and mentoring, and the halcyon early days of the San Francisco Writers Grotto.

Personal Essay: The Monster and the Miracle (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

 

 

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 13  |  Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen no greater monster nor miracle than myself.” The personal essay has to identify the monster within us, and accomplish the miracle of transformation, through understanding and enlightenment. You have to track down the monster inside you, and worse, reveal it to the reader, and then describe how you set out to slay it. The transformation from monster to miracle is what makes your life interesting. A personal essay, above all, is not about you—it is about the story.

Join us for a day-long workshop where we will identify that monster within you and attempt to slay it on paper. You will read some great examples of personal essays, do some exercises that help you get at the story you will tell in your essay, learn the structure of a personal essay, and come away with an outline and a start to writing your essay.

Laura Fraser is a long-time Grotto member and New York Times bestselling author whose essays have appeared in the New York Times‘ Modern Love column, Marie Claire, O: the Oprah Magazine; and numerous other venues.

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com 

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Date: Sunday, August 13

Course fee: $125

Personal Essay: The Monster and the Miracle (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

 

 

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 24  |  Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen no greater monster nor miracle than myself.” A successful personal essay has to identify the monster within you, and accomplish the miracle of transformation, through understanding and enlightenment. A personal essay isn’t really about you—it’s about that transformation, that story.

This one-day course will teach you how to craft a personal essay. How do you take your personal experiences, ideas, blogs, or journal scraps and turn them into an essay? What is the difference between an essay that editors are excited about and one that never gets a return email? What are the three biggest sins of personal essay and how can you avoid them? By the end of the day, you will have an idea and a framework for a personal essay. Bring your lunch.

Course usually sells out, so register soon!

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist and journalist whose personal essays have been published in Modern Love in the New York TimesO: the Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, and numerous other venues. She’s also the New York Times-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map.

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com 

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Date: Sunday, April 24

Course fee: $125

The Monster and the Miracle: Personal Essay Workshop (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com 

Number of sessions: 3

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Thursdays, March 3, 10, and 24  (no class on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17)

Course fee: $295

This is personal essay workshop is a perfect follow-up to Laura’s “The Monster and the Miracle” one-day class, but open to anyone who wants to write a personal essay. We will workshop the essays for structure, clarity, humor, and other aspects of craft. Laura will help you polish your essay and figure out venues where you can publish it.

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist and journalist whose personal essays have been published in Modern Love in the New York TimesO: the Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, and numerous other venues. She’s also the New York Times-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map.

Personal Essay: The Monster and the Miracle (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Date: Sunday, January 31

Course fee: $125

NOTE: This class is sold out.

Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen no greater monster nor miracle than myself.” A successful personal essay has to identify the monster within you, and accomplish the miracle of transformation, through understanding and enlightenment. A personal essay isn’t really about you—it’s about that transformation, that story.

This one-day course will teach you how to craft a personal essay. How do you take your personal experiences, ideas, blogs, or journal scraps and turn them into an essay? What is the difference between an essay that editors are excited about and one that never gets a return email? What are the three biggest sins of personal essay and how can you avoid them? By the end of the day, you will have an idea and a framework for a personal essay. Bring your lunch.

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist and journalist whose personal essays have been published in Modern Love in the New York Times, O: the Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, and numerous other venues. She’s also the New York Times-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map.

Personal Essay: The Monster and the Miracle (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

Dates: Sunday, November 22

Course fee: $125

Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen no greater monster nor miracle than myself.”  A successful personal essay has to identify the monster within you, and accomplish the miracle of transformation, through understanding and enlightenment. A personal essay isn’t really about you—it’s about that transformation, that story.

This one-day course will teach you how to craft a personal essay. How do you you take your personal experiences, ideas, blogs, or journal scraps and turn them into an essay? What is the difference between an essay that editors are excited about and one that never gets a return email? What are the three biggest sins of personal essay and how can you avoid them? By the end of the day, you will have an idea and a framework for a personal essay. Bring your lunch.

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist and journalist whose personal essays have been published in Modern Love in the New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine; Marie Claire, and numerous other venues. She’s also the NYT-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map.

Writing the Personal Essay for Publication (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Number of sessions: 3

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Thursdays, September 24; October 1 and 8

Course fee: $200

How do you take your personal writing from your journal or blog to publication? This class will explore how to write a personal essay—and how to get it published. We’ll talk about which of your experiences have universal appeal, how to shape your story, and when your personal writing is just too personal. We’ll also look at how to structure a personal essay, grabbing the reader’s attention and tugging them along to a satisfying ending. This class works for writers of all levels. Come with some essay ideas, and expect to finish a short essay by the third class.

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist, the editorial director of Shebooks.net, and author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map. She has published personal essays in such publications as the New York Times, O the Oprah Magazine, Sunset, Elle, Tricycle Buddhist Review, Afar, and many others. Laura has taught magazine writing at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and at many other venues. She brings her practical sensibility, compassion, and sense of humor to every class.

Writing the Memoir (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Number of sessions: 8

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Wednesdays, July 8, 15, 22, 29, August 5, 12, 19, 26

Course fee: $540

An autobiography is the story of a life; a memoir is a story from a life. Great memoirs captivate us with their drama and inspire us with universal themes of transformation. Bad memoirs trudge through boring details and self-pitying moments. How do you shape your memories and experiences into a compelling story? What do you put in and leave out? How do you compress time and remember dialogue? William Zinsser wrote, “To write a memoir, you must manufacture a text.” That means practicing the storytelling crafts of creating tension, developing a dramatic narrative arc, knowing when to use scenes or summary, writing realistic dialogue, and developing a theme. In a memoir, you are the protagonist, and your protagonist needs a plot. Memoir isn’t about you, it’s about the story. In this course, we will study aspects of craft by reading selections of memoirs from the masters. Then we will take your memories, journal entries, and musings and learn to shape them into a story with universal appeal. You will complete a couple of short assignments leading up to a longer piece of your memoir to workshop, and you can also develop an outline of your memoir by the end of the course. The emphasis of this class is on craft.

Required Texts: selected Shebooks (short e-books); Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art (Judith Barrington). For the first week, you’ll be required to read ONE memoir of your choice from a list the teacher will provide. Note: If you miss any classes because of vacation, Laura will provide you with a written lecture for the week(s) you miss.

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist, the editorial director of Shebooks.net, and author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map. She has published personal essays in such publications as the New York Times, O the Oprah Magazine, Sunset, Elle, Tricycle Buddhist Review, Afar, and many others. Laura has taught magazine writing at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and at many other venues. She brings her practical sensibility, compassion, and sense of humor to every class.

Telling Your Story: Personal Essays for Publication (with Laura Fraser)


Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Number of sessions: 3

Time: 6:30 pm-9:00 pm

Dates:  Tuesdays, May 19, 26, June 2

Course fee: $225

Everyone has a story–or many stories–to tell. Whether you’d like to write about your travels, relationships, crazy relatives, life challenges, or just put your cocktail party stories into writing, this workshop will help you shape your stories. Laura will offer practical advice about how to take the leap from writing in your journal or on a blog to crafting a publishable personal essay (or better blog posts!). For experienced writers, Laura will help you take your writing to the next level. Laura brings inspiring exercises and tips, an overview based on decades of experience, and a sense of humor to what will be a memorable–and useful–workshop.

Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist, the editorial director of Shebooks.net, and author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map. She has published personal essays in such publications as the New York TimesO the Oprah Magazine, Sunset, ElleTricycle Buddhist Review, Afar, and many others. Laura has taught magazine writing at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and at many other venues. She brings her practical sensibility, compassion, and sense of humor to every class.