Help Wanted: Newsletter Editor for monthly publication Seattle Free Lancer. From 4-6 pages, currently produced in InDesign, but can also be done in Word. No pay but eternal gratitude of members and paid membership to Seattle Free Lances professional writers organization. Contact Sharon Yamanaka, [email protected] for details.
Duval Edwards reports the Society of Southwestern Authors published the book Duty, Honor and Valor last November. It contains 38 articles by writers who are members and is a salute to veterans of all U.S. wars and military service, starting with the Civil War. He was honored by being article number one with “Was the Army’s Secret Service TOO Secret?”, written in 1948. Instead of accepting money for the article, he asked for and got extra copies of the book, and will bring one to the next meeting he attends.
Carol Wissmann had an article on employee training appear in Lawn Care Professional magazine. She also spoke on “Profiting from Periodicals” at the University of Washington Extension program.
Sharon Yamanaka will be attending the Whidbey Island Writers’ Conference, May 2-4, 2007. Jo Meador will also be there. Early registration with a 10% discount ends Dec. 1. Anyone else interested in attending?
Winter Writing Classes from Field’s End
Bainbridge Island, Washington – Registration opens on December 1, 2006 for Winter 2007 writing classes offered by Field’s End, a regional writers community affiliated with the nonprofit Bainbridge Public Library. Three classes for writers of varying skill levels and interests are on the roster of classes to be held January through March, 2007.
Award-winning children’s author George Shannon will explore
the literary and storytelling skills required to bring your best writing to the picture book for children in a class titled “Writing the Picture Book Text.”
Beginning on January 27 is “The Play’s the Thing,” offered by experienced playwright Elizabeth Heffron. In this dynamic craft course, students are encouraged to write an original one-act play.
For the more experienced writer, master teacher and novelist Carole Glickfeld returns with “Taking Your Novel to the Next Level: Launching Your Opening Chapters,” an intensive, hands-on class for advanced writers who have a draft of a novel in progress or have had previous instruction in novel writing.
Registration forms for 2007 Winter Writing Classes may be found online at www.fieldsend.org and at the Bainbridge Public Library. Questions? Ask the Field’s End : [email protected]. Field’s End, named “Best Writers’ Community 2006” by Seattle Weekly, exists to inspire writers and nurture the written word.
Helen Szblya writes, “My Op-Ed piece appeared in the Seattle Times on Oct. 5. The article is posted on my website, along with info about my book at www.szablya.com. The Hungarian program for the 50th anniversary is also posted at www.hungarianamerican.org. and www.europeanweekly.net. You can read a different editorial on the European Weekly website about the 50th anniversary, which I wrote. Thanks a million.”
Jan Park’s article about Heritage Park in Lynnwood was published in the October issue of Northwest Prime Time.
PoetsWest is celebrating its first year anniversary of broadcasting from KSER 90.7 FM in Everett. Each week during the month of October, PoetsWest is featuring Best of … selections from the past year on its weekly radio show every Friday at 4:30 p.m. (PST) from KSER 90.7 FM Poets-West on The Road Home from Everett, WA. The broadcast is available via streaming by going to http://www.kser.org/ and following the Listen Live links.
J. Glenn Evans was interviewed as an historian for a documentary of Pike Place Market by Mark Sparks of VMG (Visual Media Group) for the upcoming centennial celebration of the Pike Place Market in 2007. J. Glenn Evans is the author of SCW Little History of Pike Place Market.
Larry Karp reports that Poisoned Pen Press will bring out his new book, The Ragtime Kid, an historical crime novel, in November. The debut signing will be at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Sat Nov. 4, 12 noon -1pm. Then he takes off for a promotional tour through Arizona and California, winding up at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, Nov. 17-19, where he says, “I hope to snare a bunch of new readers, and in any case, enjoy the music.” He will then do a discussion/reading Wed. Dec. 6, 7pm, at Third Place Books in Lake City.
Dennis Newton writes, “I’ve been flying a flight test project in Alaska. Anyway, I have a feature article in the September issue of Business & Commercial Aviation Magazine and had a two-part article in the May/June and July/August issues of the Museum of Flight’s magazine, Aloft, which can be downloaded from their website should anyone so desire.”
Jennifer McCord was on a TV show for the Arts Now program at Edmonds Community College. It is a cable show that interviewed writers from the Edmonds Area, classes and conferences. She is teaching a class on marketing and did two of the interviews sections. Here is the link to the great article that was just written about ArtsNow. http://www.enterprisenewspapers .com/index.cfm?Action=story&StoryID=20069
Donna Ander’s next suspense novel from Pocket Books, Death Waits For You, will be released on October 31st. She’s currently working on the next book that will be released in 2007 from Pocket Books.
Gary Boynton was asked by the editors of Famous American Crimes and Trials to expand his chapter on Ted Bundy for inclusion in their new two-volume set, Crimes of the Century. He was also mentioned as one of the Northwest’s up-and-coming true crime writers on CLEWS, The historical true crime blog.
Janis Hutchinson’s book, Out of the Cults and Into the Church: Understanding and encouraging ex-cultists, has just been awarded the Faithwriters.com “Outstanding Read” Seal of Approval. She was told this is quite an honor! The review of her book can be found at: http://reviews.faithwriters.com/
Carol Wissmann had an article appear in Lawn Care Professional magazine. She will also be a presenter at the Sept/Oct. Payette Lake Writers Conference in McCall, Idaho.
Jo Meador’s Report from Whidbey: I am in my second year of the Masters of Fine Arts Program at Whidbey. Our residency was held at Camp Casey from August 12 to August 21. The weather was much better this semester and we actually had some afternoon sessions in the sun. I am steeped in the fiction program, taking short forms this fall along with directed readings in poetry. For fiction I am studying under Bruce Holland Rogers, a gifted writer and teacher from Eugene Oregon. And I have the great privilege to be taking poetry readings from David Wagoner. The term is moving quickly. Next semester I will work on my dissertation, bringing my novel to completion and a publishable state.
The master of fine arts is a two year terminal degree in studio format. We are exposed to many teachers each semester during the residency as well as our class instructors. This term I was honored to hear from the children’s authors Kirby Larsen, Stefanie Bodeen and Jane Kurtz. We took sessions from literary agents and publishers such as Andrea Hurst, Kate Gale and Doris Booth. Other instructors include Susan Zwinger and Lisa Dale Norton in non-fiction and Carolyne Wright in poetry.
Special Announcement for 2006 and Beyond
PoetsWest airs every Friday at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time) on The Road Home from KSER 90.70FM from Everett, WA. Can’t get it in your area? Go to http://www.kser.org/ and follow the Listen Live links.
Duval Edwards is going to the annual convention of the CIC, to be held this year in Austin TX in October. He started their newsletter in 1947. In 1991 he was induced (or seduced?) into editing it again for seven years, finally leaving it as Editor Emeritus.
This July, Lensey Namioka attended a summer institute at the University of Delaware on teaching American history, with special emphasis on immigration. Her book, An Ocean Apart, A World Away, was one of the texts used for study. And, her publisher, Harcourt, is putting out a second editon of her 1994 young adult novel, April and the Dragon Lady.
Please Note Changes
PoetsWest venue moves from Epilogue Books to the Ballard branch of Seattle Public Library beginning on August 19 and every third Saturday of each month. Readings will run from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Free parking in the garage.
ProseWest at Ballard Library, every second Saturday from 4-to 5:30 p.m. beginning October 14. This is a venue for writers of fiction and nonfiction: essays, biographies, histories, etc. Ballard Library, 5614-22nd Ave. NW, Seattle. Either prose or poetry at the open mike. Contact J. Glenn Evans 206.682.1268 or [email protected].
Our long awaited upgrade is finally complete! There’s a fresh new look as well as many new features, including free blogging. Check it out today. We have some new free poetry contests to enter. There’s never a fee to enter our contests. Check them out on our site. More will be added within a week. For now, make sure you enter this one:
We are looking for high quality writers and poets to make our site better. We would love if you shared some of your poetry with the world on our site. To show our appreciation, we would like to offer you a Free 3-month Premium Membership. Just sign up for a free membership and do the following:
Send an email to:
Subject: Free Premier Membership
Make sure you include your MoonTown Café.com Username in the message (do not include your password). Your profile will then be updated within about a week.. We appreciate your support.
Dancing Girl Press is accepting manuscripts from women poets for publication in our annual chapbook series. Submissions open until October 31, 2006. We plan to publish 3-5 chapbooks per year chosen from the best of the manuscripts we receive. We do not offer a monetary payment for the manuscripts published in the series, but we do offer a payment of 25 copies of the chapbook to the authors chosen. We also offer generous discount (60%) onadditional copies the author may wish to purchase. Guidelines www.dancinggirlpress.com/
guidelines.html: Manuscripts must be between 22 and 34 pages, with only one poem per page. Submissions are accepted via email [email protected] as attachments in Microsoft Word only. Include “Chapbook Submission/LAST NAME” in your subject line.
Looking for Poets and Writers to Perform.
Open Mike Night every Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. the Whidbey Coffee Company, 619 Fourth Street, Mukilteo, WA 98275. This event is hosted by the Mukilteo ARTS Guild. Contact: (425) 423-0450 for more information.
Gladys Nelson was awarded the Dick and Jane Award for perfect attendance over her 46-year membership. The award pays tribute to Elizabeth Ryder Montgomery, author of many Dick and Jane books, for her lasting devotion to writing.
J. Glenn Evans won the Jim Stevens’ Paul Bunyan Award as one who has influenced writers in a Babe the-Blue-Ox way. Evans leads the PoetsWest and ProseWest writers groups in Seattle. Stevens wrote stories about Paul Bunyan in the 1920s and ’30s.
Robert Dugoni reports that his latest book, The Jury Master, is enjoying success throughout the country. He writes that The Jury Master is rated Number 4 on the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list. The book not only has remained on the New York Times extended bestseller list, but has moved up two places to Number 29. Robert currently is on a book tour, returning to this area in late April. He was to be at Fort Lewis and McChord Airforce Base on April 15, and is scheduled to be at the Nexcom and Oak Harbor Naval Bases Saturday, April 29. The Jury Master is part of the official library for the U.S. military’s troops in Iraq. Says Robert, “That is a terrific feeling.” Check out Robert’s website: [email protected]/
Marie Little, SFL treasurer, announces publication of her first book, Alderwood Manor, a pictorial history book, co-written with Kevin Stadler and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. After selling articles since 1968, Marie is delighted to announce release of the book, one of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, on May 22. The history of the community from 1900 through 1965 is told in 128 pages with 180 photographs.
BackOfTheRoom.com is a new online bookstore specializing in self-published and small press books. They include more than just printed books, though – audio products, e-books, and right now they’re conducting an experiment in offering artworks. The purpose of this service is to assist authors/creators who self-publish, or work with independent presses, to reach a wider audience with less effort while selling more products.
During their pre-launch phase, they are approaching individual contributors, groups/associations, and independent presses. During the launch, they will begin aggressively marketing the site and the products on the site to potential affiliates as well as to a broad mass audience.
December Speaker David Williams
Persistence, Perseverence, and Passion
by Goldie Silverman
These were the watchwords that David Williams, our December speaker, left with us, the secrets to his success as a writer, and a very successful writer he is, with several books and many magazine articles and book reviews in his curriculum vitae, and a new book contract in the works.
David did not grow up thinking he would become a writer; he grew up a reader. Except for keeping a journal, he didn’t like writing. He chose to attend Colorado College because English wasn’t a required subject. After graduating with a degree in geology, he moved to Moab, Utah. As a “trip mom” at an educational institute there, one of his tasks was to coordinate workshops. He heard the writing lecturers say, “write what you know,” and realized that he knew the natural history of Southern Utah, the animals, plants, and of course the geology. It was a subject that not many people were writing about. He had an article, “What Is A Desert?” accepted at Zephyrs, an alternative newspaper in Southern Utah, and never looked back. David’s first book, a field guide to Southern Utah, was turned down, politely, by a publisher from Falcon Press whom he met when he was a park ranger in Utah.
A few years later, in Boston, a friend suggested that he make his proposal broader, and resubmit it to Falcon. This time a different person saw it, liked it, and accepted it. That kind of persistence continues to mark David’s professional life.
Persistence, to David, means never giving up on a topic or an editor. He likes to make personal contact with editors and agents, and does not hesitate to telephone one and invite him or her to coffee. David does not go for the crush of the crowd around the editor or agent at a writing conference; he prefers a quieter approach. Any time he has an idea, David says, he will phone the editor that he thinks should be interested in that topic. If it’s turned down, he’s not discouraged, but goes on to find a different editor. If the editor doesn’t respond, David persists in calling back, resending queries, sending a second email (with an apology as if the editor hadn’t received the first one).
Timing is especially important in making opportunities happen, David said, and this is where perseverance comes in. He constantly has feelers out for new periodicals and new topics for articles. Once a month, David visits a magazine store to see what new publications are on the rack that might be interested in his writing. He describes himself as aggressive about sending proposals to magazines all over the country, and using the same material over and over again, “re-tooling” it to be appropriate to the readership of the magazine he is approaching. As an example, he told us about writing about building stone, materials that can be seen in every downtown of every city. His article on building stone, with a few adjustments for the local scene, has appeared in publications all over the country—Sunset Magazine, the Seattle Times, and several infight magazines. How’s this for perseverance: he approached Smithsonian magazine eleven times before a proposal was accepted. David said, “I made my opportunities through naively thinking I could do it.”
(Here’s a suggestion for all of us to follow: David has had much success in writing for alumni magazines. For example, when he learned that a professor from Yale University would be speaking in Seattle, he contacted their alumni journal and ended up with the assignment to cover his appearance.)
Finally, there is passion. “Geology is my passion in life,” David said. It was his major in college and it will be the subject of his new book, with ten chapters on building stones all over the country, from brownstones in New York City to Bunker Hill to the Getty museum in California to petrified wood. Whatever your passion is, he concluded, that is what you should be writing about.
November Speaker Judy Bodmer
How to Develop Your Name
by Janette Lemmé
Judy Bodmer tells us she is not “famous,” but she has definitely made a name for herself in the Northwest and beyond. At our November 7th meeting, she shared “How to Develop Your Name.”
Using Bette Hagman’s books on wheat allergies as an example, Judy’s first word of advice to writers is to follow your passion. She cited a number of people who have pursued a keen interest or developed an expertise in a subject and become acclaimed writers in their fields.
Writing about your work, hobby, travel, studies, or even your weakness and failure makes good substance for a writing career. Judy displayed Debt-Proof Your Marriage by Mary Hunt as a prime example. Not only did Mary use her victory over indebtedness as subject material, but she employed good marketing techniques to expose her name and work to as many people as possible by offering a free subscription to her money management newsletter. Rod Nichols also uses the vehicle of a topical newsletter to publicize himself and his books on financial management. Some authors now include CDs in their books.
Write articles! “This is one of the best ways to get your name out there and to build your credentials when submitting to other periodicals and book publishers,” said our speaker.
Register a website. “It’s easy,” Judy insisted. All you need to do is purchase a template and pay around $8.00 a year. (I checked this out at www.web.com. It does look easy.) www.Sunservers.com and www.AIT.com were recommended for domain registration and web hosts.
A blog is useful to many. Judy posts “whatever is going on in my heart” as material for her blog. You can look into her heart at www.Writetoinspire.blogspot.com. At www.bloger.com you can sign up for a blog. Simply sign in your name and a password. www.windscraps.blogspot.com can help would-be bloggers. www.dreamwalker. blogspot.com and www.blogexplosion.com are also good options. www.trafficdriver.com directs people to the blog of their interest. If you develop a website or blog, you can build in a site meter to tell how many hits you’re getting.
Do you have a cause? Do you love pets, fight cancer, or have a handicap about which you can write? Do it, states Judy. Submit your work in as many ways to as many outlets as possible.
Develop an email list. Keep track of people to whom you wish to send notice of your work.
Design bookmarks or postcards to display your authorship. Put out word of your published work (even prior publishing) to alumni and other associations to which you belong.
Accept every opportunity to speak, Judy advised. We are sure glad she accepted the opportunity to speak at SFL. It was a most informative and enjoyable presentation.
Judy Bodmer has written numerous articles and several books. When Love Dies: How to save a hopeless marriage, What’s in the Bible for Mothers, and The Write Start: Practical Advice for Successful Writing.
October Speaker Doug Tolmie
The Power of Storytelling
Doug Tolmie spent the majority of his career with KOMO Channel 4 as a talk show producer. With over 500 shows to his credit, he began his talk by saying he’d “never made his interviewees cry. That,” he said, “was a cheap trick.” But his heartwarming stories, a tribute to his storytelling and video editing skills, often left his audience in tears. Doug’s career with KOMO ran from 1978 to 2003 where he worked primarily on special projects, from Children’s Hospital fundraisers, the 4th of Jul-Ivars Specials, to the highest rated local program of its time, “Town Meeting” with Ken Schram. Doug then quit television broadcasting and began his own company, Storytellers Communications, Inc. Strategic storytelling, Doug explained, “helps people build relationships of trust.” In an organization you need to build trust, and he listed two steps. The first was to connect with people through stories. The second was to validate your stories through your actions. “It’s tough,” he said, “to execute both of these.”
Doug’s form of storytelling is through video editing, “Video is completely different. The [writer’s] pages are divided in half. The writer writes audio portions and video portions, and the “track” is what actually has to be written.” The rest are comments already on tape. He uses no set-ups, only “real stuff from the heart.” First he logs all his shots — long shots, short shots, words spoken, and the background. Then he organizes the video clips, picks the music, and adds narrative for a script. Then comes the magic of editing. Words, sound, and picture come together in one cohesive whole. Doug then showed a video clip made “only to negate some negative stories previous aired on patient/doctor relationships.” This turned out to be a touching story of a young boy with cancer, and the considerations that his doctor put into his care. The clip showed a caring doctor and medical staff, affected by their patient, and trying to do what was best for a child with a fatal disease. This, Doug said, “was against the standard doctor stereotype of the time.”
As part of Storyteller Communications, Doug often organizes nonprofit charity events. They are “only moderately successful” most of the time, but through the use of storytelling, they can raise phenomenal amounts of money. By connecting the Museum of Flight’s new WWII fighter aircraft opening with the WWII Fighter Aces pilots’ convention that happened to be in Seattle at the same time, Doug created an event with a storyline. He invited the 70 WWII fighter pilots, including six Medal of Honor recipients, to the Museum of Flight’s “Wings of Heroes” event where their stories were told and their patriotism honored. The event broke records for fundraising, and many of the pilots whose wartime contributions had never been acknowledged, were “stunned” with the 12 standing ovations they received.
Finally, Doug’s company creates corporate images. “Facts and figures have no emotions. If you want to connect, you have to tell stories.” Listening to the employees and owners, Doug creates a meaningful corporate history. He rewrites their Mission Statements, usually taking a very long, complicated paragraph written by committee and shortening it down. “The simpler the message, the easier it is for people to follow,” Doug explained. He provided a few Mission Statements along with the companies they represented.
To make people happy — Disney
To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people have —Walmart
Earning the trust of our customers one at a time — Nordstroms
To solve unsolved problems innovatively — 3M
To restore people to full life and health — Medtronic
Building better lives for women and their families — YWCA
Doug ended simply, “You’ve been given a gift. Share this gift any time you possibly can. Because it does make a profound difference to the people around you.”
Oh, and the highest rated Town Meeting ever? The guest was Shirley Temple.
Adam Hyla and Steve Clark
Our September speakers were two dedicated, community-minded editors from local independent presses. Steve Clark of the Ballard News Tribune and Adam Hyla of Real Change, an alternate newspaper created to assist the homeless, spoke on their jobs, their publications, working with the community and of the future for writers. Steve Clark began with an admission, “I’m moving to Colorado and will only be the editor of the Ballard News Tribune for one more week.” He spoke about the responsibilities of representing a community, then switched to a larger issue — Editors are becoming obsolete.
“In some respects the internet has turned the reader into an editor. People can pick and choose what they want to read… and writers area now more necessary than editors.” The writer, according to Steve, relates directly to the reader and cannot be replaced whether the vehicle is a printed piece or the virtual screen pages on the internet. Elaborating he said, “The internet replaces a lot of the mechanical presses but a reporter is still necessary to provide content.” His own specialty is in fishing and boats, “any kind of boat,” and his goal is to become a subject-matter expert selling content to internet markets.
Asked why he was moving to Colorado if he was interested in boats and fishing, he replied, “It was a compromise. My wife and I want to buy a home.” Steve agreed to live somewhere that had either mountains or water. Apparently they’re going with the mountains.
Real Change, edited by Adam Hyla, exists only to help the homeless by providing them with a dignified product, something homeless vendors would be proud to sell. Adam explained that selling a newspaper on the street is a protected first amendment right, and no licenses are needed to sell them. Currently there are between 30-40 other “street papers” throughout the U.S. It’s hard to connect with street people, but the paper seems to work.
With an editorial committee made up of six previously homeless people, the paper went over a redesign about a year ago. They shortened the articles, increased the graphics and photos, and decided to include more general interest news such as local politics and environmental issues. “People really like the newspaper, and that makes it easier for the street people to sell.”
Adam said circulation has been growing about 10% per year and couldn’t grow at a faster pace than that. Circulation is related to an increase in vendors and territories. “If a vendor sells 600 papers, they become a member of the 600-Club and can pick the spot they want to sell.” The other vendors have to respect the area, and this occasionally leads to “turf wars.” At that point, disciplinary action is taken, but generally the vendors are allowed to sell however they want.
“It teaches them responsibility, salesmanship, and how to develop and keep a customer base… It boils down to, ‘Be courteous, and don’t drink and work.’ ” Adam also noted that circulation goes down in the first week of the month when the vendors receive various government assistance checks.
As far as his editorial duties went, he was “barraged with volunteers — Jesuit volunteers… Mormon volunteers..” And some of the vendors contributed content — mostly poetry.
The program ended with questions and answers with both Adam and Steve saying they welcome unsolicited submissions, “fully formed queries” that were different from the cycle of stories written by the staff, particularly for the Ballard News Tribune. They were also interested in getting local cartoons, Steve mentioning that he used a syndicate.
As a final bit of advice, Steve suggested, “Hard news stories are hard to come by. As a writer that’s a good specialty.”
Michelle Goodman: Freelancer’s Freelancer
Michelle Goodman, speaking on the topic of procrastination and discipline of freelance writing, began with a short background on her freelance career. She started “not the way I’d advise anyone else to do it,” by quitting her job and hitting the pavement, going from door to door, and phone calling for work. And ten years later she has Microsoft, online publications Bust and Salon.com, and pet magazines such as “The Bark” as clients. She’s currently working on The Anti 9-5 Guide, a book on alternate career paths for young women, to be published by Seal Press.
On the business end of freelance writing Michelle suggested Seattlewritergrrl.org for pricing and contract information. She prefers to work for established compa-nies; they’re used to dealing with freelance writers and their accounting and payments systems are established. She also likes working for smaller rather than larger companies.
“Set rigid business hours for your clients and yourself,” Michelle said. It’s a real job even if you’re at home. “Set up everything in your office before you get deeply into your project and make sure your computer is in tip-top shape.”
Just back from the Whidbey Island Writer’s retreat, Michelle focused on her writing habits that, away from home distractions, became more apparent. She prefers writing first thing in the morning and is usually done by 5. She found out how many words she can put out in a day and how many hours in a row she can sit and write. She also pointed out the things she did to procrastinate and distract herself from writing, which started with hovering over email and ended with having to clean the house before sitting down to write.
Her tips are:
- Unplug anything that rings or dings.
- Close the door to the rest of the family/friends.
- Play your favorite CD.
- Go clean but only for 15 minutes.
- Give yourself a reward for working.
- Lower the bar a little to get the pressure off of your writing.
- Go ahead and hit rock bottom — hers is watching bad tv, until you disgust yourself. Then you’ll want to write.
- Shorten increments, instead of writing for one hour, try 15 minutes at a time.
- Track your progress on a spreadsheet or on the wall. Force yourself to write a certain amount every day. Stephen King forces him-self to write 2,000 words per day.
- If you really hate it, make sure you want to be a writer, otherwise, throw in the towel.
“It’s not hard to squeeze an hour or two extra a week,” Michelle says, “There are stolen moments of time on your way to work, in the bus, in the car, walking the dog. Even during a 15-minute lunch break.”
Fall Writing Classes From Field’s End
Registration opens on August 15th for Fall 2006 writing classes offered by Field’s End, a regional writers group affiliated with the Bainbridge Public Library. Three classes for adults and one for college applicants are on the roster of writing classes to be held in October and November.
Award-winner Kathleen Alcalá will teach “Writing Historical Fiction” on Thursday evenings in October as well as November 2, and 16, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Avenue North, Bainbridge Island. The class costs $240 and is limited to 15 students. Writers of all levels are welcome.
Historical fiction is one of the most successful genres in both commercial and literary publishing today. The timeless appeal of a beautifully-imagined historical novel is one readers of all ages find irresistible. So when history is your story, how do you use fiction to bring the past to life? Sensory detail draws the reader into the story, but we must also empathize with the characters. This six-week class will cover the areas of research, creating cultural context and techniques for bringing your story to life. We will end by discussing cover letters, the synopsis, and possible markets for historical fiction.
Alcalá is the author of a short story collection, Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist, and three novels: Spirits of the Ordinary, The Flower in the Skull, and Treasures in Heaven. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, the governor’s Writers Award, a Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Award, and a Washington State Book Award. A co-founder and contributing editor to The Raven Chronicles, she is currently serving on the board of Richard Hugo House.
The Bainbridge Public Library will be the location for Sheila Rabe’s class “Your Nonfiction Book Project: Putting It All Together” to be held Saturdays, October 14, 21, 28 and November 11 from 10:00 to 12:00 noon. The class will be limited to 15 participants and cost $160.
Rabe asks, “Are you curious about nonfiction writing, but unsure what exactly is involved? Do you have a terrific idea for a book, but need to figure out where to go with it? Do you need help with structure and organization? Help with the actual writing? How do you nail down your central idea and theme, research your topic and keep everything straight? Who is your target reader?”
This class prepares you to bring your project together and give it the kind of „sales appeal — that can get agent and editor attention, to pinpoint your target market by creating a table of contents and book jacket mockup — complete with flap copy and review quotes.
Sheila Rabe is the author of 16 novels, 2 works of book-length nonfiction, and a series of gift books. She is also a song writer with a recorded song to her credit. A dynamic, creative workshop leader and member of two local critique groups, she is a vibrant member of the Bainbridge Island writers community.
For those high school students heading to college in 2007 or 2008, best-selling author Susan Wiggs will teach “Who I Am: Writing the Personal Essay for College Applicants,” on Monday evenings October 16 and 23 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Pegasus Coffee House, 131 Parfitt Way SW, Bainbridge Island.
This is an opportunity for motivated high school students to examine the college essay from the standpoint of writing craft, and then to create ones that truly represents who they are. Participants will learn how to find their voices and write about their dreams and goals with emotion, specific imagery and self-awareness.
Finally, on Saturday afternoons November 4 and 17 from 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., American Book Award winner Matt Briggs will discuss “The Art of the Short” at the Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N, Bainbridge Island. The class is limited to 24 students and costs $80.
Short short stories are useful for beginning short story writers or experienced prose writers looking to explore new strategies of telling stories. “We will begin drafting our story right away,” says Briggs. The class will examine successful techniques of crafting a complete story within the confines of a limited length. In the second meeting, the class will work on revising and finishing stories. “In addition to hands-on work on our own stories, some of the writers we’ll look at in class include: Gary Lutz, Diane Williams, Michael Ives, Lydia Davis, Jim Heynen, and Russell Edson,” adds Briggs.
Matt Briggs is the author of three collections of short stores including The Remains of River Names and The Moss Gatherers. Clear Cut Press recently published his first novel, Shoot the Buffalo which has won the American Book Award. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines, including the Wandering Hermit Review, The Northwest Review, and ZYZZYVA. His fiction has won The Nelson Bentley Prize in Fiction from The Seattle Review, The Hugo Gift Award, and a Stranger Genius Award. He has taught writing at the UW Extension, Johns Hopkins University, Richard Hugo House, and elsewhere.
Registration forms are available online at www.fieldsend.org and at the Bainbridge Public Library. Tuition assistance is available through the Jack Olsen (Memorial) Writers’ Assistance Fund. Apply for tuition assistance through the class registration form. Address your questions to the Field’s End registrar at [email protected].
Field’s End is a writers’ community, affiliated with the nonprofit Bainbridge Public Library, whose mission is to inspire writers and nurture the written word. Field’s End sponsors writing classes, the free monthly Writers’ Roundtable on the third Tuesday of the month at the Bainbridge Public Library, lectures and special events, and a Writers’ Conference to be held on April 28, 2007 at Kiana Lodge. Information about Field’s End’s programs may be found at www.fieldsend.org.
Lou Guzzo Takes Close Look at the Writing World
Past and Present
Lou Guzzo took Seattle Free Lances members down memory lane and talked about the “communication revolution” when he addressed the revelers at their 85th birthday party in May. Then he turned his views on the future of the writing business. “I was two years old when SFL was created,” he told the group. That was about the time this noted author and columnist began his “love affair with words,” which he said was still going on.
“Words can do more than just speak,” Lou said. “What we do with them determines whether we’re magicians, propagandists, or charlatans.”
Lou enjoyed a long career as a managing editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and an investigative writer covering scandals, racketeering, and riots. He earlier had been an arts and entertainment critic for the Seattle Times. After he led a successful campaign to elect Dixy Lee Ray as governor, he served on her staff in several capacities. He went on to become a commentator and editorial consultant at KIRO-TV and radio.
When he first noticed SFL back in the 1950s and ’60s, membership was made up mostly of newspaper staffers, “fellow writers and sufferers,” he called them. “So I wrote a book and became a member in the mid-’70s,” he said. (He since has written more than 20 books.) By that time the group included many noted authors of books and articles. He mentioned such “old timers” as Lucile McDonald, Janice Krenmayr, and Don McQuinn. “The Seattle area had many noted authors that were recognized by eastern publishers,” he said, calling Seattle the Number One City in the production of authors.
Lou, who is now retired from newspapers, maintains a website where he offers his opinions on the state of the world in general and writing in particular. He’s not happy with the publishing business today and sees great trouble ahead. “A revolution will assert itself this century,” he predicted. “The culprit is the world of technology, and the new generation of writers should be ready for it.”
He suggested that newspapers as we know them are headed for extinction because of television and the Internet. He further predicted that the Hearst Newspaper chain, which currently owns the P-I, will someday own the Seattle Times. “For writers, this affects us all,” he said, as he considered the possibility that newspapers will be absorbed by the Internet … “news on the tube,” he called it.
“I love libraries,” Lou admitted. “They have been important to me.” Still, he fears for the future of libraries. Communication hasn’t caught up with them as yet, but it will, he believes. “New gadgets will make libraries obsolete, to be replaced by special warehouses for books.” He also thinks bookstores will be replaced by electronic wonders. “It will take time, but it will happen.”
What that means to writers is an even greater market, “more places to sell our stuff,” said Lou. “Instant translations will open the world of writing to all lands. I can only hope it will bring us together in a united world.”
Lou concluded on a visionary note. “Books, magazines, and newspapers are the stuff of education, the stuff that raises the standard of living around the globe.” He suggested that publishers and editors connect with the techies who know better than anyone what the communication revolution will bring — “an open vision of the world of tomorrow.”
March Speaker: Tom Masters
Blogging on the Net
Tom Masters ran the whole facet of what’s available on the Internet for blogging in his presentation at the April SFL meeting. His masterful presentation of “Blogging” explored this fast and easy way to post online information and opinions on virtually any subject.
In picturing blogs as our friends, Tom explained that “a blog is basically a journal that is available on the web.” The word “blog” is shorthand for “web log.” Blogs can be used as advocacy vehicles, as news sites, as grassroots journalism sites, for family or personal histories, and to promote business as marketing tools. “Blogs are fast, cheap, and easier to set up than websites,” Tom said. There’s “no HTML experience required.”
Want to join in the fun? Check out your favorite subject by going to www.blogsearch.com/
How To Turn Your Hobby Into Profit
by Sharon Yamanaka
Were it not possible to take it the wrong way, I would say that John Beath is the masculine version of Martha Stewart. He has taken his passion for sports fishing and made a name, and soon-to-be fortune, for himself as an authority in the subject. In his talk, John said he started out by going to the local newspaper, the Monroe Monitor, and asking if he could become a writer. The editor said yes, then called over a senior writer, saying he “probably would need some help.”
Beath said, yes he did, but from there he established himself as an authority in sports fishing. Now he has the number one website for halibut, and a lot of power within the northwest fishing industry. He outlined his steps to success:
Become an expert/authority in a specialized field or topic
Begin writing for small publications. Save every article for re-use.
Learn to take your own photos; this will make more money. Buy the best camera equipment you can afford.
Promote yourself as much as possible.
Speak at clubs and other non-pay functions to perfect your speaking, then seek out paid engagements.
Capitalize on your knowledge. Create your own product line.
Seek out clients for consulting work.
Build an informative website about your topic.
Write how-to, where-to books and use them to sell your products.
John emphasized how important enthusiasm is for your topic. “It shows in your talks and attracts an audience and customers,” he said. From there, think outside the box. As an example, John told how he moved from expertise in fishing, to speaking about outdoor wear, hypothermia, and other safety related topics.
For his halibut book, he collected what amounted to advertising from fishing lodges to be listed in his book, saying that they were all good lodges and he could endorse them wholeheartedly. He has a cookbook coming up, saying that he could do the same thing and ask for advertising dollars to include recipes from restaurants and lodges. “That way, the printing is paid for before the book is ever published.”
Clever, hard-working, and enthusiastic, John Beath is most emphatically making a name for himself for his integrity and knowledge in a lucrative recreation. As you can see, he packs a lot into his work and his life.
February Speaker: Carol Wissmann
Get on the Phone and Don’t Give Up!
by Val Dumond
In case you haven’t noticed, Carol Wissmann’s notes about her latest sales appear in almost every issue of Seattle Free Lancer in the Shop Talk column. That’s because she has a very efficient system for keeping her freelance article sales consistent. She explained how she does it at the February SFL meeting.
Carol learned the value of telephone use when she was looking for teaching positions in the ’70s. Later she applied the same techniques to a successful career in sales. “My use of the telephone gave me a big advantage over my competitor who was uncomfortable making the call,” she said. Happily, she landed her teaching contract and later her sales.
She since has applied the techniques of successful telephone selling to her freelance writing career. “This is a great time for freelancers,” she exclaimed, referring to the cutbacks of staff writers in corporations. Below are some of her tips:
Instead of toiling over one article with one sale, plan to sell the information in one article a dozen times.
Why write a book when you can write and sell short articles based on the book chapters?
Find your niche and then find trade publications that will use your information. “Most magazines today are trades,” Carol said. She cited the wide variety of publications that include fruit growers, pets, Alaska Business, university publications, raising gerbils, aquariums, even mold in carpeting. “The list is endless, and the research is interesting.”
Know what you’re selling. “Are you selling a product (an article) or a service (freelance writing)? Your approach to editors will be different with each one.”
“To contact potential publishers, pick up the phone and call the editor,” Carol said. But be sure you ask for the right person. “Do your homework and find the right name — and the person who does the buying.”
Carol suggested using any of several publishing directories. Some are online; other are available to your library: Writers Market, Bacon’s Magazine Directory, Directory of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, Literary Marketplace, Catholic Press, Publication and Broadcast Media, Working Press of the Nation, America’s Editorial, Directory of Education, and Ulrich’s International Directory.
She also announced there are numerous niche magazines, at least 31 new women’s magazines, for instance.“They’re out there,” Carol said. “You need lots of prospects to be a successful freelancer. You can’t just send to one prospect and hold your breath. If you sell to 25% of your prospects, you’re not selling to 75%,” she said, referring to another sales tenet. “Your success depends on making many calls. By sheer numbers, you’ll connect.”
Payment for freelance writing hasn’t changed much over the years. She cited magazines that pay as little as eight cents a word and some that pay as high as a dollar a word.
Some other tips from Carol: keep track of your work on 4×6 cards, filed by month, week and also alphabetically. Build your confidence by making friendly calls to editors; be brief and follow up afterwards. Collect clips of your work to send to new prospects. The talk ended with questions about publication rights and the internet — a new and very gray area.
“Negotiate,” said Carol. “Don’t give up your rights!” Thompson Gale is a “content aggregator” —a company that finds and reprints articles on the internet. However, the writer is not compensated for these reprints. “I’ve just become aware of this,” said Carol, “and I’m not sure how legal it is. It certainly is not just.”
“It’s all fascinating to me,” she concluded. “It’s all fascinating. You can build your stable of editors and your career as a freelancer. It all begins with making some phone calls.”
January Speaker: Ray Ptfortner
Marriage Between Writers & Photogs May Work!
by Jan Park
Ray Pfortner, January’s guest speaker, gave his audience a double treat. First he provided an insightful talk about forming a writer-photographer partnership. Even better, he took his audience on a stunning pictorial tour of Vashon Island.
Formerly a Manhattan resident and trained as a biologist, this freelance photographer settled onVashon 11 years ago and learned about his new island through his camera. He has thousands of images to show for it.
While we viewed beautiful slides — one after another — of colorful sailboats and sunsets, seascapes and pastoral scenes (even the bicycle tree landmark), he talked about the pros and cons of linking up with a photographer.
“A writer teaming up with a photographer is like a good marriage,” Pfortner said, “as they work hand in hand. They share the same desire to be published in magazines and books,” he added. “Besides the convenience of such a relationship, each has their own marketing contacts to share.”
Pfortner claims that if you find the right partner, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. But each should be paid separately. It was also his opinion that one person wearing both hats is not a good idea.
He gave advice about finding a freelance photographer, such as contacting photographic organizations and websites, galleries and camera clubs. (A handout can be obtained from a board member.)
Need quality photographs? “Try a stock photoagency,” Pfortner offered. “It is like a lending library of images.” Two stock agencies in Seattle are Getty Images and Corbis Corp.He also talked about fees and the rights issue, and cautioned against selling all rights.
November Speaker: Ann Jensen Warman, “Secrets of Good Branding”
What Can A Website Do For You?
by Sharon Yamanaka
Sometimes as writers we forget the power of images. Ann Jensen Warman from Brand Unity Inc., founded her company on strong visual branding. According to her, “Studies show that strong visual branding decreases price sensitivity, increases bargaining leverage, and raises customer loyalty.
What is strong visual branding? The answer in three words:
A quick survey revealed that about half the audience had their own websites. Ann then explained her Rule of Seven: It takes seven times for a product to make an impression on a buyer beforethey recognize it. Therefore it’s necessary to repeat exposure of your product. For authors, that would be repetition of book covers, for example, at every marketing opportunity.
“That’s where a websitecan help,” said Ann. But not only does a website help with brand recognition, it can:
… add creative content, such as response to questions, criticisms,
comments or other articles written about your book
… aid in generation of leads
… create a historical perspective of your writing
… build your credibility as an author
… provide information.
Websites, Ann noted, need to be high traffic areas because of the funneling or pipeline effect. “Out of 100 people, maybe 10 will email you for more information. Three will be interested in buying, and one will finally place an order. That’s the pipeline.”
Along with your website, brand unity should extend to your “bricks and mortar” marketing, and include such things as mailers, print advertising, and business stationery, so that potential clients will see your logo and business name in as many different places as possible. “And,” Ann added, “no is never no; it means later.” Maybe after ten or twenty exposures to your company or product, a customer will buy.
Another use of websites is tracking. Called eROI, e-marketing that helps companies increase sales and extend brand awareness via electronic communica-tions and capturing leads online, you can use agencies such as ConstantContact.com to monitor and record web traffic at your site.
Ann’s talk ended with a quiz:
Q: What is SCSI (scuzzy)?
A: What you call week-old underwear.
Q: What is serial port?
A: Wine you have for breakfast.
Q: What is a chip?
A: A pasture muffin you don’t want to step on.
Q: What do you do with a “terminal”?
A: Call the undertaker.
Q: What is a “hacker”?
A: Uncle Leroy after smoking.
Q: What is the internet?
A: What cafeteria workers put under their hats.
Q: What is a keyboard?
A: A place to hang yourkeys.
Q: What is a mousepad?
A: Where Mickey and Minnie live.
Q: What is ROM?
A: Where the pope lives.
Q: What does it mean to crash?
A: Go to a party uninvited.
Serious, yet fun and compelling when driving in a point, Ann herself proved to be a powerful exampleof what marketing and websites can do for you.
John Szablya Succumbs at 81
by Val Dumond
John Szablya, husband of Helen Szablya, died at the age of 81, on October 29 at their home. This courageous man “believed impossible dreams were achiev-able,” as stated in a tribute to him in the Seattle Times.
“Even though his body was devastated by leukemia and he could scarcely sit unaided, his last dream was to stand beside his wife (earlier in the week) as she was honored by the Hungarian government. Stand he did when Hungarian Consul Ferenc Bösenbacher hung the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary around Helen Szablya’s neck during a private ceremony in the couple’s Kirkland home.”
Helen is a former president of SFL and a current member. “John deserves the medal as much as I do,”Helen said. “All the help we gave people was done together.” The medal honored Helen, who served as honorary consult of Hungary and who had written about the Hungarian revolution in her book, The Fall of the Red Star.
“He loved to dance with his wife, swim, hike and ride a bicycle,” wrote Sherry Grindeland in her tribute to Dr. Szablya. “‘He danced right up until April, when he got too weak,’ said Stephen Szablya, a son who lives in Bellevue. It was Stephen who stood behind his father … lending his physical support during the ceremony thanking the Szablyas for a lifetime of service for the freedom and democracy of Hungary.”
Dr. Szablya is survived by his wife Helen, daughters Helen Szablya (Chuck Dann) of Baltimore, Alexandra (Navaal) Ramdin of Seattle, Rita (Karl) Pool of Kennewick, and Niki (Don) McKay of Woodinville; sons János (Marcey) Szablya of Philadelphia, Louis (Kate) Szablya of Houston, Stephen (Kristy) Szablya of Bellevue; and 16 grandchildren.
A funeral Mass and reception were held November 4. Dr. Szablya had requested that people not wear black to the service. The family suggested donationsbe made to The Dr. John and Helen Szablya Power Engineering Scholarship Fund at Washington State University, P.O. Box 641925, Pullman, WA 99164-1925.
Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Available
Through Whidbey Writers
by Jo Meador
Whidbey Island Writers Association is sponsoring a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Program through the Whidbey Writers Workshop, a low residency program consisting of 10 days on campus with the remaining 16 weeks conducted over the internet.
The campus is on Whidbey Island at Camp Casey, run by Seattle Pacific University. The program is authorized by the Washington State Higher Educa-tion Coordinating Board.While many MFA programs exist in the fine arts, music, theater, and dance, this is the first writing program to be offered by an association rather than an educational institution. Four tracks of study will be offered: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Children’s Literature. The program consists of writing workshops, courses in craft and directed readings, and a thesis course ending with a full length publishable manuscript.
Students can take up to six years to complete the MFA, pacing studies with the demands of career and day job. Be warned, though, the online portion is no pastime for slackers or chat room junkies. Under the direction of Wayne Ute, the faculty conducts animated discussions on such topics as imaginative writing, voice, imagery, character, setting and story applied to published works, as well as individual writing.
This semester’s faculty includes Bruce Holland Rogers, Carolyne Wright, Kirby Larson, and Susan Zwinger. These instructors will be joined next term by David Waggoner and Chris Howell. At the ten-day residency, guest faculty included Marvin Bell, Sheila Bender, Peggy Shumaker, Kathleen Alcala, Susan Zwinger, Jill Johnson, Randy Powell, and Frances McCue. Next term guest faculty includes Gary Ferguson and Anjali Banerjee.
Besides the degree program, there are limited slots in the 10-day residency programs still open. For more information, contact Whidbey WritersWorkshop, 360-331-6714, or website at http://www.writeonwhidbey.org/mfa .
October Speaker: Secretes of a Good Interview
by Bette Filley
“How do you as a writer handle an interview?” George Pettingell, Production Manager and Director of Public Affairs for KTBW Television, asked at the October SFL meeting. His topnotch advice on “The Art of the Interview” left the audience with loads of useful information.
“Begin by assessing the market,” George suggested. Find out which talk or interview shows are available that are appropriate for your subject. Find the name of the host or producer and write a good letter. Preface it with a lead that grabs their attention. Send a copy of your book or an article you’ve written along with your letter. Call after three to five days. “How do you prepare for the interview?” Before any interview, think of all the questions that might be asked. You might even submit a list of sample questions to the producer or host. Then know your answers. Prepare any graphics you might want to use. “Remember, TV is visual,” he cautioned.
“Dress for success,” George advised. “Suits and ties are appropriate for men. Women’s faces tend to disappear when they wear black or white,” he said, urging women to wear solid colors, not stripes or patterns. If possible, wear a jacket so there’s a place to clip the microphone. And a flimsy blouse will pull with the weight of a microphone. Street makeup is all right; keep jewelry simple, nothing too shiny. And don’t worry about glasses; glares can be fixed.
George described the 30-50 lights of 2,000 watts each. “One light is on your face; one fills in the shadows and makes your face look 3-D; a third is a backlight that hits the top of your head.
All told, the result is HOT!” Someone may sit down with you and go over the questions, but don’t let them ask for your answers. If you’re blinded by the lights, don’t panic. That actually means you’re in the right position. Never look at a camera. The camera is the audience. “Forget that it could have several million people behind it,” George advised. “Instead look at the interviewer, and SMILE!”
George’s best suggestion was to “add life to the program. If you love your material, show it. Keep a pleasant demeanor. Don’t get flustered, and don’t correct the interviewer.” He also suggested avoiding one word answers. Add the old standard details of the five Ws. “If asked a difficult question, answer what you want to answer,” he concluded. “At the end, always say thank you.” After the show, ask for a copy of the VHS or DVD. Again, be pleasant, and you may be invited back.