Episode 184 – Writing Raw & Real Memoirs with Jenn T. Grace

Mark interviews Jenn T. Grace, a nationally recognized business strategist, speaker, and award-winning author who is passionate about helping people share their stories of adversity.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update, welcomes new patrons and offers a word from this episode’s sponsor.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In their conversation, Mark and Jenn discuss:

  • How, from the earliest age, Jenn had always wanted to be a “Dear Abby” type of writer
  • A 2012 advice column that was an early “Dear Abby” dream-come-true for Jenn
  • The LGBTQ inclusion consulting work that led to very random questions and great learning opportunities to share
  • The “raw and real” level of vulnerability that helps to break through the noise and clutter
  • How authors don’t often include their story enough in non-fiction to connect with readers in a way that they don’t expect
  • The way you can tell, when writing a memoir, if you’re going deep enough into the emotional resonance of a story
  • Jenn’s memoir House on Fire, which she released in Sept 2020 and how she had no choice but to have to share that story
  • How Jenn likes to think about writing, which is a solo event, as a team sport
  • The profound experience Jenn had of listening to her narrated memoir in another person’s voice
  • How most people confuse memoir with autobiography
  • The admiration that Jenn has for Dani Shapiro as a memoirist
  • The difference between a writer coach and an author coach
  • Publish Your Purpose Press, the service that Jenn runs to help thought leaders create their books
  • The “Getting Started for Authors” program and how it can help writers earlier in their journey
  • Jenn’s role in helping writers to re-calibrate their focus and purpose and to ensure they’re always attending to that “North Star” for their project
  • How writing a memoir as a piece of fiction is one strategy that writers can use when the stories they need to share are so raw and exposing
  • The emotional, personal, and legal ramifications related to sharing true stories about other people
  • A “second pass” approach to changing identifying details/features/descriptions that can be done, but only after the core writing and re-writing is completed
  • Strategies for how to change names, locations, specifics in a memoir
  • The value of Jenn’s other non-fiction books inspired from her “Dear Abby” writing
  • The personal satisfaction of helping other people realize their dream of writing a book

After the interview Mark shares a reflection about the importance of emotional resonance in writing memoir or fiction.

Links of Interest

Jenn T. Grace is a nationally recognized business strategist, speaker, and award-winning author. Guided by the mantra, “Change happens in business,” Jenn believes social change happens first in the workplace before spilling over into mainstream society. She has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.

Passionate about helping people share their stories of adversity, Jenn is the Founder of Publish Your Purpose Press, a publishing company that includes the PYP Academy, with programs that teach aspiring authors how to publish their books. In addition to publishing 60+ books that share the stories of others, Jenn has written six.

The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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