A color photograph of memoir editor and author Lisa Dale Norton while on a hike in the mountains outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is wearing blue shorts, a blue-and-white stripped short-sleeved top, and sandals. She is crouching over her heels with elbows on her knees smiling broadly at the camera. She sports John Lennon-like sunglasses. Her long, reddish-blonde hair flows over her shoulders. Around her bunches of yellow flowers bloom amidst pinion pines and juniper trees. Blue skies and puffy white clouds fill out the horizon. Norton is one of America's foremost independent editors of memoir. She is a gifted story analyst and a compassionate and wise teacher of the art and craft of writing. Norton is the author of America's favorite handbook for writing memoir entitled Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir.

Lisa Dale Norton is an author and a developmental manuscript editor. She specializes in memoir and narrative nonfiction. Lisa is passionate about layered writing structures that reflect the complexity of life experience, and about the transformative power of writing a memoir. She is a gifted teacher, clear communicator, and a pro at creating an environment were learning can happen.

Lisa’s Books

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 fifteen years in the marketplace. Lisa teaches the process of writing from shimmering images at conferences annually.

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 of Lisa’s books are published by St. Martin’s Press in New York.

Lisa’s Education

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

Black-and-white photograph of my aunt, Evelyn Norton Lincoln—also an author—with President John F. Kennedy, her boss. Evelyn and Kennedy lean in from opposite sides of a central desk, strewn with papers, in tight conversation. Kennedy's left hand, grasping a sheath of papers, rests on his hip. Evelyn, one hand propped on the desk looks intently at Kennedy. Evelyn was an inspiration for me as I was growing up, and then establishing myself in the world in the 1970s and 80s. Evelyn believed in big dreams, and she and my Uncle Abe encouraged me to shoot for the moon, which for me was not the terrain of politics, but rather the landscape of story. Learning to be an expert memoir editor is something my Aunt Evelyn would admire as she certainly learned how to be an expert at delivering whatever was needed whenever it was needed for the President of the United States.Lisa’s Family

Lisa 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 at Home

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 resident 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 language, culture, art and architecture as possible. In the Sandhills, she works on new book ideas, walks the river in summer, rakes leaves in autumn, and annually ponders the wild geese, as they fly south, and then home again.

Lisa and the Hand Written Letter

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: P.O. Box 151, Ericson, Nebraska 68637.