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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
Spring is in the air and creativity is blossoming. If you’re looking for some new ways to use the Internet to market your books, tune in to our next member teleseminar with Penny Sansevieri, which will be on May 6 at 1 pm (Pacific).
You can get even more ideas from Penny and 14 other publishing experts including Mark Victor Hansen, Dan Poynter, Fern Reiss, and John Kremer at the Self-Publishers Online Conference (SPOC), which will be held on May 12-14.
SPAWN is one of the sponsors of SPOC and you can attend for exactly $0. You have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain, no matter where you are on your publishing journey. Whether you have already published a book or dream of writing one, you’ll find helpful information from people who have sold literally millions of books.
Until next month, keep on creating!
May Teleseminar Announcement!
Penny Sansevieri to Present Teleseminar for SPAWN Members
Who: Author of Red Hot Internet Publicity and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
When: May 6, 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: “Red Hot Internet Publicity 2.0”
Read more: http://www.spawn.org/blog/?p=959
My friend is a food writer. This week she’ll take a trip back to her hometown. She’s stepping out of her kitchen comfort zone to make a foray into travel writing. She’ll write about the travel, seeing the old places from a different perspective and a little about regional foods.
Springtime is renewal and spring cleaning. I’m marking things off my To-Do List—the audit is over, a world’s record for speed. Two weeks from our first meeting, the auditor signed off, accepting the figures I had submitted. Audits generally take an average of three months, so I am doing a happy dance. Finding all the records the IRS asked for while having the house in ummm, disarray because of the work being done (yes, it’s still going on) was a challenge. I have a new box of file folders and those found records are all going into the file cabinet when they are returned by the IRS.
Members of SPAWN can join the Yahoo e-mail list. This month, we’ve been talking about pricing e-books, converting to Kindle or other readers, and piracy. With publishers putting more of the work on authors, writers need to learn about pricing, discounts, wholesale, returns, and marketing.
Speaking of marketing, read the Market Update—it will lead you to the Author Survey so you can find out how others are promoting their books. And do you believe in ghosts? If not the Casper kind, how about “ghost” writing? See if you are suited to be a writer behind the scenes.
And if your mind gets stuck for ideas, head outside for a quick walk or a few minutes pulling weeds in the flower bed. Giving another area of your brain something to do often leads to great ideas.
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
The May issue of the SPAWN Market Update carries the latest opportunities and resources you’re accustomed to discovering on these pages—those designed to assist with your freelance writing work, book promotion, and so forth. But there are also a few surprises. Have you ever thought of becoming a ghostwriter? We interviewed Mary Anne Hahn, founder of the International Association of Professional Ghost Writers. Tune in to Hahn’s story. She reveals who is best suited to be a ghostwriter and shares some very specific resources for locating work as a ghostwriter. We also report the results of the Author Survey. Find out how others are promoting their books and learn which book promotion activities are most effective.
If you are a freelance writer or author, do your career or your book promotion efforts a huge favor. Spring forward and join SPAWN NOW. It’s only $65/year. That includes 12 issues of the valuable SPAWN Market Update. Check out the other benefits of joining here http://www.spawn.org
The SPAWN Catalog Is Going to Print!
Attention SPAWN Members: You have a new opportunity for book promotion because the SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services is going to print! We will have the catalog printed in full color and then we’ll hand it out to hundreds of people attending at least half dozen book festivals and other events throughout the U.S. this year. There is room for 8 more listings, so you can still add your book or service to the beautiful online and print catalog.
It costs just $35.00 per listing, and the new deadline is June 1, 2010.
Use this form: http://www.spawn.org/blog/?page_id=810
View the beautiful SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Service here: http://www.spawn.org/spawn_catalog.pdf
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Microsoft Word 2007, Dialogue, and Backstory
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: Can you advise me on submissions to contests, agents, etc., concerning the latest MS Word program? I have the new MS Word 2007. Any file created in this program ends in docx. Will others using older versions be able to open and read these files? Should I save down to a MS Word 97 version before e-mailing any attachments?
A: I still use MS Word 2003, and until I installed a program that lets me covert files from docx to doc, I could not open docx files. The program didn’t cost me anything, but it took a bit of searching the Web to find a free, reliable program. Not all users of older Word versions will go to that trouble, so it would be safer to save the files as doc files before sending them out.
Q: I am editing an article for a periodical and cannot find anything in my grammar books or copyeditor’s guide that addresses this issue. There is a sentence in quotation marks that lists within it the names of several songs. I am confused as to whether to use single quotation marks around the names of the songs or to use double quotes as you would usually do with a song.
A: Single quotation marks are used to indicate quotation marks inside of double quotation marks. Because the sentence is in quotation marks, any items within it that would have quotation marks around them should have single quotation marks.
Examples: “John, did you say ‘Thank you’ to your teacher?” Mary said, “I loved the Tommy Edwards song called ‘It’s all in the Game.’”
Q: A newspaper reporter in my writing club took me to task for using ‘whether or not’ in fiction dialogue. I see why the corsetry of reporting would not use this phrase, but isn’t fiction dialogue supposed to be somewhat the same as the way people actually talk?
A: First I must comment on the use of corsetry (the making of corsets or other binding garments). It made me smile; I’ve never seen the word used to refer to the limitations of journalism, but it certainly fits.
You’re completely correct that journalism has its confines, while dialogue in fiction has almost no such restrictions. All bets are off and all rules dropped when it comes to dialogue in fiction. While narrative has its guidelines, dialogue should sound natural.
People naturally speak in contractions and use expletives, slang, idioms, clichés, and wordy phrases, all things that narrative should not use. Human beings repeat themselves and pick the wrong words sometimes, too, which can add humor to dialogue. I saw much of that tactic used in the dialogue on the TV show The Sopranos. I recall one character kept saying, “I’m having prostrate trouble,” when the correct word is “prostate,” but many people incorrectly use the word “prostrate” in this sense.
Do people say “whether or not” when they speak? You bet they do, and it’s your choice as the author whether to use it in dialogue, but avoid it in narrative.
Q: What is back story?
A: Backstory (or back story) refers to the background of characters, the biographical information that made them what they became. It explains why they do the things they do or want the things they want. It gives readers an understanding of the motivations and goals of a character. In essence, it tells a story that happened before the one they are reading; hence, backstory.
Backstory can be revealed through flashback, thoughts, narrative, or dialogue. Personally I prefer backstory to be revealed through dialogue, which inherently shows, rather than tells, as you’ll see in my examples.
Let’s say that at age 40, Mary is studying to become a medical researcher, and you want readers to know why. I’ll give a few examples of ways to fill in with backstory. Each of my examples could go on a little longer and give more detail, but backstory is best when it comes out in short bits that do not halt the flow or kill the pace of the story.
Backstory through narrative:
Mary had an 8-year-old daughter who had died of lung cancer, although the doctors were baffled about how such a young girl could have contracted the disease.
Backstory through thoughts or flashback:
Mary lifted the wilted rose, brought it close to her face, and sniffed it. The powdery texture and sweet scent took her back to her daughter’s hospital bed, the dying roses on the bedside table, while the child struggled for breath. What went wrong? How could an 8-year-old die from lung cancer?
Backstory through dialogue:
“I don’t talk about it much,” Mary told her school administrator, “but I had an 8-year-old daughter who died of lung cancer. We never knew what caused it, how she could get lung cancer at her age. I want to discover something that will keep others from going through what we went through.”
Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Visit Bobbie’s blog at http://bobbiechristmas.blogspot.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
Want to be part of the Member News? Send us your items and we’ll be glad to include your good news in the next issue. Want to be a Member Interview? It will give you a chance to plug your book, your business, yourself. Just email me and let me know you’d like to be included. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Olga Tinti wrote in to give us some exciting news: Natalie Tinti’s book Sewing a Friendship just won another award. The book is an NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner for Spring 2010 (in the children category). You can read more about the book at www.tintinatie.com
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This just in from Mari Barnes, the author of Parting River Jordan who recently told us how she learned to do an e-book:
“I’m blogging and have joined the Book Blogs ning, which got me my first online review—5 stars! And, I’m working on the second River Jordan book.
“Thanks to Mark Coker and the good folks at smashwords.com, Parting River Jordan is going to be an Apple iPad book! They’ve also gotten it distributed to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, and are in negotiations with Amazon for Kindle inclusion.”
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Mary Embree, Executive Director of California Literary Arts Society (CLAS) announces the Fifth Annual Ventura Book Festival which will be held this year on Saturday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Again it will be at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach hotel which is located in a beautiful setting just steps from the ocean. As several major book festivals have been cancelled recently, CLAS is pleased to be able to produce its event again this year. In addition to the exhibits, the Festival will also feature seminars and panel discussions in two meeting rooms on either side of the exhibit hall. These hourly presentations will cover a wide range of subjects of interest to readers, authors, and publishers. For more information on the festival, exhibitors, and programs see the CLAS website www.literaryarts-ca.org or contact this year’s festival coordinator Kathleen Kaiser at Kathleen@kathleenkaiser.com. Exhibitor space is available.
Mary Embree is the founder of both SPAWN and CLAS.
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The Self-Publishers Online Conference is May 12-14 (Sponsored by SPAWN!)
Live Long and Publish! May 12-14, 2010, at the Self-Publishers Online Conference you’ll learn from 15 experts about all the ins and outs of self-publishing and marketing your book. Dan Poynter, Mark Victor Hansen, Fern Reiss, Peter Bowerman, John Kremer, Penny Sansevieri, and many more will be on hand with presentations sure to inspire and motivate you.
In addition to the speakers, you’ll enjoy an online exhibit hall with book industry vendors, Q&A roundtables, and online discussion tools so attendees can network with one another. There is no cost for a Basic attendance pass. For more information or to register, visit the SPOC Web site at: http://www.SelfPublishersOnlineConference.com
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SPAWN President Susan Daffron and her husband James Byrd are offering a writing retreat for non-fiction book authors this fall (September 24-29, 2010). Initial information on the retreat is available here: Cabin in the Woods Writing Retreat
If you are interested in learning more and possibly attending, fill out the form on the writing retreat page, so you can be first in line when registration opens.
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Note: To have your announcements included in Member News, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please email your news to email@example.com
Words to Live By
by Bonnie Myhrum
Bonnie is in the middle of a big project and will return as soon as it’s completed. In the meantime, read her blog at http://professionalsecretary.wordpress.com
by Patricia Fry
A Writer’s Vehicle, Henry Ford’s Way by Billie A. Williams
Filbert Publishing (2010)
97 pages, $9.00
Billie Williams isn’t new to publishing—in fact, she has over two dozen published books. While she generally writes mystery novels, she has used her creative senses to produce this new book for writers. A Writer’s Vehicle offers solid advice for writers, with an interesting twist. It’s fascinating the way she compares Henry Ford’s list of what he wanted his vehicles to represent to a writer’s list of the quality products we hope to produce. What do these two lists have in common? Both Ford and writers strive to produce a product that is sturdy, attractive, competitive and of good workmanship. Williams likens the automobile’s ignition to the hook we need in our stories to draw the reader in and compares the automatic oiling feature in the cars to the flow in a story from one plot or chapter to the next. Clever, don’t you think?
And the book goes on to teach authors how to construct a book from the initial idea, through the contents, and even including the physical construction of a book. I especially like her chapter on the construction of various types of books—memoir, short story, novel, and so forth.
I found it interesting that Williams was able to continue the automobile theme throughout. For example, she likens the article to a sports car, short story to SUV, essays/letters to sedans, autobiographies to station wagons, poetry to a 4-door convertible, novel to a heavy-duty stretch cab pickup. And she urges writers to be true to their audience, no matter which vehicle they use. Being a nonfiction writer, I appreciated this statement (which, of course, is valid in fiction writing as well), “Your reader is relying on you to tell the truth even in a made-up story. Your reader wants you to be reliable. If you tell them marshmallows are nothing but puffed-up Jell-o, or a Dodge is carbon copy of Ford’s original idea, you better be dadgum sure you have your facts right. Some reader somewhere may toss your book in the circular file and blab about it on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or wherever there are readers.” And she warns, “Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, for or against you.”
I like her chapter on workmanship, where she suggests that you start with good material, that it is well-written and that it flows. I see way too many clients who do not know how to make their stories or nonfiction material flow. Williams explains the process of making your story flow “naturally from one thing to another where characters seem to act from within, what they do is right for that particular character at that particular time, in that particular genre.” I think we’ve all read novels by authors without this skill.
Williams also provides a long list of recommended reading for writers.
This is a small book packed with some useful information for writers and authors, shaped into an interesting mold, using a most unusual vehicle.
Tapping Your Innate Creativity
by Barbara Florio Graham
This month’s exercise is ideal for spring. Take a small plastic bag outside, and collect the following items. First, look up, and pluck a twig, leaf, or anything else you notice hanging within your reach.
Then, look down, and pick up something from the ground, perhaps a pine cone or a pebble. Do not duplicate; select something different. Both of these things should be from nature, so if you see a button or a piece of metal on the ground, ignore that and find something natural.
Next, fasten your gaze on a manufactured object: a vehicle, part of your house, a trellis, lamp post, etc. Examine this carefully, noting its color, texture, how it feels under your hand (cold? rough? dirty?).
Then come inside and write down your impressions of the manufactured object. Lay the two natural items you brought in with you, and see if you can find a theme that runs through all three of these things. Use that theme to create a haiku or short free verse, or to direct your thinking about the current project you’re working on in a new direction.
Read a description of my online course, Tapping Your Innate Creativity, at www.SimonTeakettle.com/tapping.htm.
Featured Member – Lorna Lorraine
I am Lorna Lorraine, owner of Dream Publishing in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. As a divorcee who was thrown into single motherhood, I continued to work through different careers as an engineer, auditor, and settled into human services as a permanent career switch. During a period of fighting a physical illness, I used creative inspiration to combat depression, which later led to writing.
Dream Publishing started as a kitchen-table business with the publishing of my first anthology in 2003. My first self-publishing workshop, accompanied by an e-book with the same name, outlined my step-by-step journey in the production of my first book. The company morphed into a corporation in 2009 as more serious consideration was given to its authenticity. We create books, develop workshops, and provide copy-editing services. We are also the publishing arm of a unique gift business that is a fusion of my art and literary work.
At present, we have one graphic designer on staff, another who freelances, and we outsource printing through a publishing executive who brings us the best value. We do developmental editing for non-fiction work and outsource some other editing. Most of what is produced through Dream Publishing is fiction; however, with the growth of my grandchildren and my interest in their development and education, I researched the ideas for my parenting workshops. In addition, I developed a series of children’s books geared toward learning in fun under an imprint of the same name. My contribution came from using my experience in foster parenting and raising my own children to adulthood.
As a former magazine editor, I was used to looking for fresh ideas, and always researching even before I started publishing my own books. During that period I became familiar with self-publishing Web sites and articles by many writers, one of whom was Patricia Fry. I became a fan of hers and following her led me to SPAWN. The best thing about becoming a member was to glean from other writers’ experiences, and share in the valuable exchange of ideas that are reliable and authentic.
At age 50 most people start to mellow, self-actualize, look in the rear-view mirror, and settle into what they have worked toward for years. I am now age 57 and things are just starting to cook on the scale I envision. This baby-boomer who emigrated from Jamaica was not raised to embrace creativity as a career path. For me, this phase of my life started at age 50. I never in a million years thought I would be having so much fun publishing children’s books and painting portraits as I head toward my 60s.
Fulfill your literary and publishing needs at http://www.dreampublishing.biz
Subscribe to children’s workshops and participate in the blog at http://dreamch2.wordpress.com
Contests, Events and Opportunities
We have moved the Contests, Awards, Events, and Opportunities listings to the blog. Please use these links to get the latest information
SPAWN is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. SPAWNews advises “caveat emptor” when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you. SPAWNews was proofread by Bonnie Myhrum, Professional Secretary, LLC. 734-455-0987.