Biography

Lisa is an author, memoir editor, and dynamic public speaker. She is passionate about layered writing structures that reflect the complexity of life experience and about the power inherent in the act of creating a narrative from lived experience.

Lisa wrote America’s go-to memoir writing guide, Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir, and the literary nonfiction story Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills, which won comparisons to the writing of Annie Dillard.

Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir is short, direct, humorous, and gives readers a step-by-step technique for mining the past and using shimmering image memories to construct a memoir. It’s been a perennial favorite in school systems and continues to sell well after nearly 10 years in the marketplace. Lisa teaches the process of writing from shimmering images in a variety of venues every year.

Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills combines personal writing with natural history about the Sandhills region of the Nebraska. Lisa uses a return to the Sandhills to put her life back in orbit, but soon discovers the land itself needs healing: the waters of the Ogallala Aquifer are threatened by farming practices. Both books are published by St. Martin’s Press in New York.

Lisa earned degrees from Reed College and the University of Iowa.

She comes from a line of accomplished Nebraskans: Congressman J. N. Norton, District Judge William H. Norton, and Evelyn Norton Lincoln, President John F. Kennedy’s personal secretary.

Nancy Rogers Sayre, Lisa’s mother, grew up in New England and Chicago, part of the Long Island Sayre family, descended from Thomas Sayre who settled New York in the 1600s. (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda was part of the Sayre clan, too!)

Lisa lives in Santa Fe; Venice, Italy; and an 97-year-old writing cabin in the Western Sandhills. In Santa Fe she reads, writes her own stories, advises writing clients and edits their manuscripts, plays the piano, swims, and nurtures her beloved flower garden. Roses, columbine, iris, lilies, clematis, wisteria, and daffodils are just a few of her favorite species. In Venice, she memorizes the labyrinth of calli daily as she walks, walks, walks, and takes her dose of gelato at Nico. She is an avid traveler in Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy with the goal of simply absorbing as much art and architecture as possible. In the Sandhills, she works on new book ideas, rakes leaves, and ponders the wild geese, as they fly south, and then home again.

Lisa has a wide circle of friends living across the United States and in Europe, with whom she stays in contact via real letters, yes, on paper. An avid letter writer from childhood, she adores this form of expression. She always had pen pals. Write her; she’ll write you back.