Memoir for the Infamous: In Six Words or More

Memoir for the Infamous: In Six Words or More

by Joyce Lefler

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Legend has it that Ernst Hemingway considered this six-word memoir to be his best work.

You don’t have to be famous to write a memoir. The Glass Castle and A Child Called It are better known than Jeannette Wells or Dave Pelzer, the people who lived and wrote them.

I was infamous for a short time. I was accused of murdering my disabled child, Adam, who was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome. I was treated as guilty before the trial. Warped versions of my story blasted across the Southwestern states, and my face was plastered through the newspapers. Lovers of the macabre have an insatiable appetite. From a couple of states over, my brother called me to tell me, “You were the feature on the news tonight.” Oh, joy.

Time passed in increments of painful moments infused with grief, shame, and fear. When I was broken inside and needed to cry, I hid my panic and how much I wanted to die.

The murder of my beloved son, being charged with his murder, and having my 9-year-daughter taken away to live with her abusive father were life-threatening injuries to my heart, my psyche, and my body. I barely survived while I waited, and waited, and waited for the truth to be revealed. I waited for 18 years.

I revived when I began to write. I needed to know the why: Why was I accused? And I could not rescue my precious daughter until my name was cleared.

I remembered and had recorded everything as if my eyes had been a video camera. I journaled, collected court documents, sorted through them, organized them, and studied them.

Writing helped me identify those why’s, the themes in my life, and the roles people played in filing charges against me. Writing was a transformative journey through the inferno of lies and hell. When I finished From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam, it became my legacy of truth in printed word to my family, my friends and, I hope, the world. The book connects me with others who have experienced abuse and who have been falsely accused, what it means to begin anew, and how to rediscover joy.

Famous or infamous – or simply you – anyone can write a memoir. Like Hemingway, six words is all it takes. Scribbled on paper or typed into a computer, the people you love may be waiting for their heritage of truth that only you can record.


I was innocent. I was accused.
I wouldn’t exchange lies for freedom.
Believe me or you can leave.
Love me or watch me go.
I used PTSD nightmares as fuel.
I found hope and something good.
You are a warrior of truth.
Begin. I will mentor your journey.

It took
 Joyce Lefler 15 years to begin and finish From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Joyce LeflerAdam because her save-the-children nightmares only visit her when summer turns into fall. She used to shove these nightmares into hermetically sealed barbed wire boxes inside her mind. They terrified her. She thought they threatened her sanity. She understands them better now and welcomes them as old friends. They contain the memories that fuel the stories she writes in the true crime/memoir genre. Joyce is a retired registered nurse and bereavement counselor. She is an advocate against abuse, a spokesperson for Geri’s law, and a facilitator for Parents of Murdered Children.  Please connect with Joyce via (Amazon);
(blog); (website); and/or (advocacy project).

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