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SPAWNews Archives

SPAWNews, February, 2005

Wendy Dager, Editor

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please e-mail the editor of SPAWNews:

Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to go to the first page of the site, and click on the "Visit Member Area" button. You will be asked to log in.

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Table of Contents

- Editor’s Note

- Free Book Offer

- SPAWN in the WD Top 101

- Letters

- Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

- SPAWN Catalog of Member Books & Services

- Market Update

- Chapter Reports

- Q&A

- Book Review

- What’s Wrong When Your Web Site is Ineffective?

- Ask the Book Doctor

- Chutzpah Gets a Writer Published

- Member News

- Opportunities

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

Jack of All Articles

By Wendy Dager

Occasionally, Web surfers discover my online résumé. I have experience in several areas of writing, and some folks send me writing-related questions. The following is an e-mail from a young man in England. I’ve corrected most of the typos and misspellings—of which there were many—because it would drive me nuts to leave them in. Although I didn’t mention the errors in my answer below and only addressed the original question—which was about feature articles—I regret not telling him to be more careful about his work. I’m going to do so in the future and hope my fellow professionals continue to do their best to copyedit the world.

Hi, my name’s Jack.

I am currently doing English A level at a school in England, and our class had the choice to do whatever we want in any type or form. I think I have chosen to do a feature article, with the title "Forgotten Thoughts" –but I am still unsure what exactly a feature article is. A story? A tale? A small autobiography? A fable?

I am getting the idea that it is a bit of a tale, and a short story mixed together, which is why I have a few ideas, asking the audience a question to start. Something like "Have you ever thought about life and death in general?" Or "Is Mr. Jones Dead or Alive"—something philosophical. Do you pose questions to the audience and then answer them?

How would I then go about answering that? Would I literally just write freely about it, or write about myself and my thoughts, about experiences, a bit like a tale and perhaps a short story, but both being real life?

I hope this e-mail makes sense to you, because it doesn't to me, and you will have the time to reply ASAP because I haven't got long.



Hey Jack,

Thank you for the e-mail. I'm flattered that you think I remember what it's like to be in school, as it's been a few centuries since I've actually goofed off in a classroom.

First, your definition of "feature article" is a bit off. Actually, it's way off. (Sorry about that. I'm dreadfully honest—just ask my teenage daughters, who live in a constant state of embarrassment due to my existence.) There is no fiction or "tale" in a feature article. Sure, sometimes you tell a story, but it's an absolutely true story. It's like a news report, only a lot more colorful, with adjectives to make it less of a dry read.

Now, because I'm such a wonderful person (again, my kids may not agree), I’m e-mailing separately the chapter about writing feature articles from my "Gorgeous and Brilliant® Guide to Freelance Writing" (, which should give you a clearer picture.

Sounds to me as if you want to do an autobiographical essay—a memoir of sorts—sharing your thoughts and philosophies. I think you should narrow your subject, even though your teacher has given you the task of writing whatever you want. I suspect that even the teacher doesn't want to read something that rambles and goes on forever. Pick a topic from your life; give the piece a beginning, middle, and end; and if you wish to philosophize some, then work it into the memoir.

I also suggest you visit your local library. (Forgive me, as I don't know if there's a public library system in England as there is here in the U.S.) Check out books on writing so you can get an idea of formats for writing articles and essays.

Hope I've helped. I wish you luck and a wonderful new year.

Wendy D.

–Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. E-mail her at

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Special SPAWN Offer: Free Book With SPAWN Renewal or Membership!

If you would like to become a SPAWN member or if you haven’t yet renewed your membership, do so now and receive a FREE book. For details:

Remember, you have a choice between one of Patricia Fry's best books "The Successful Writer's Handbook" or Stephen Dolainski's outstanding "Grammar Traps: A Handbook of the 20 Most Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them".

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SPAWN Listed in Writer's Digest Top 101 is again listed in the "Writer's Digest" top 101 Best Writer's Web Sites for 2004. We're one of only 13 organizations to make the list.

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SPAWN member, Sande, is author of "Tinker’s Christmas". A train is a key "character" in the book.

Dear Patricia,

My favorite times this holiday were the times I spent with God as I drove to whatever book signing I was doing. My most amusing time was the Sunday before Christmas when I was at the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad. They put me on the train in the Commissary Car. People had to stand right in front of me as they waited in line. Think I sold 20 books. It was fantastic! I was beside myself with joy just to be on the train. And it was beautiful! It was snowing, which is an oddity in itself, as it happens so seldom in Georgia. During a good portion of the trip, the train followed along beside the Toccoa River, and it wrapped and weaved through the woods like a ribbon across those beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Had I not had to focus on what I was there for, my mind would have left me on that train. In McKaysville, we picked up Santa. I sold a book to Santa! How cool is that when you can sell a Christmas book to Santa Claus! And everyone was so kind to me! I pray I can go back again and again. Even on the ride home as I rode across the top of that mountain with purple-blue mountain tops rolling in the distance, and snow coming down like tear drops from heaven, ahead of me on a hillside were several deer grazing. I threw up my hands and said, "God, could you make this more picturesque?" And I thanked him for all the blessings in my life, of which you are one. Thank you!

After three years, I think I have begun to identify my market with your help. And I have so many ideas flowing for all kinds of stuff. I hope to write and to read (one of your books by the way) today, as my mother always said that whatever you are doing on New Year's Day you will be doing all year! I pray you can do your heart's desire!

Love and Best Wishes Always,


P.S. I dress in full regalia like a conductor for signings. Everybody at the depot and on the train thought I was the conductor. I had to keep saying, "I know I look like I work here, but I really don't. I don't know any of this stuff."

Editor’s Note: Do you have any fun, memorable, or unusual book promotion stories? E-mail

Greetings Wendy, Pat and Virginia,

I was sitting here and I wanted to share an experience I had with the newsletters. I have all of the newsletters from January 2002 to the most recent one. Last night after finishing the interview on Artist First I remembered that I needed to send a blurb to Wendy about the release of my book. Because I really didn't know what to say I read Wendy's email to me with the instructions and noticed that she said the information would be in the members highlight section. Understand the time is now about 11:00 pm (wee hours of the morning for someone that is extremely sleepy). Anyway, as I thumbed through the most recent edition looking for that section, it hit me that this was a standard section and maybe I could get some ideas from past issues.

Well, I started looking through the old newsletters first looking for the members only section and then perusing the whole newsletter and I found articles, tidbits, etc. that were very interesting and helpful. Understand that I was a bit baffled at first but then I was tickled once I realized what had just taken place.

There were articles and information in the past issues that, although were very informative and resourceful, were not appealing to me then, but they are of much assistance now. In reading the past issues I have found a plethora of information that marks where I am as a published author at the present time and the information is useful.

This just goes to show that although the information in newsletters may not be of interest at the time that it is being sent it can be of interest and use at a later time and as you evolve as a writer.

Dr. Vanessa S. O'Neal

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Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

SPAWN Member Offer

The very popular 25th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is scheduled for April 23-24, 2005.

This year, SPAWN has purchased 3 booths so that we can offer members the opportunity to join us in the booths to sell their own books. Most author places have been taken, but you can still reserve one space on Saturday and/or one space on Sunday.

SPAWN is offering you two ways to participate:

Option 1 - You sell your book in a SPAWN booth

1 day: ¼ booth for $170 (only Sunday spaces remaining)

Option 2 - SPAWN sells your books and distributes your marketing materials in a SPAWN booth at $75 per title

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival is an exciting event and a great way to get your book before the reading public. Be sure to take advantage of this economical way to participate in the festival. Contact Patricia Fry at right away and tell her which option you choose or go directly to the secure signup form:

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SPAWN Catalog of Member Books and Services to be Distributed at LA Times Festival

As a service to our members, we plan to distribute at least 400 copies of the SPAWN Catalog at the two-day Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Most of the books and services already featured in the Catalog must be renewed to be included in this newest edition. There is a $35 fee for inclusion in the Catalog, and this offer is for members only. ($20 if you are participating in the SPAWN booth at LA Times Festival of Books.)

To sign up now for the SPAWN Catalog of Member Books and Services, go to If you have questions, please contact Virginia Lawrence at

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Market Update

The February edition of the SPAWN Market Update has something for everyone. Patricia Fry has come up with nearly three dozen opportunities for authors, freelance writers, scriptwriters, photographers, artists and even teen writers this month. Log on and discover:

  • six links designed to help you sell more books
  • how to become the editor of your own discussion group
  • where to find writing jobs
  • how a new author achieved success with his true crime book
  • which magazines, ezines and comic strips have ceased publishing
  • who has launched some of the newest magazines and publishing houses on the block
  • what is the most requested definition at the Merriam Webster Dictionary site this year
  • where you can take online screen and TV writing classes
  • where you can find a FREE literary attorney
  • who’s looking for niche writers such as Hollywood neighbors, serious cyclists, software techies, and puppy owners, to name a few
  • what hot topic caused sparks to fly at SPAWNDiscuss this week!

Read all about it in the latest edition of the SPAWN Market Update at Go to the member area using your user name and NEW password (if you’re a member, the new password appears in each monthly edition of SPAWNews) and click on Market Update.

Not a member, yet? Want to see what you’re missing out on? Contact and she’ll give you a sneak peek.

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SPAWN Chapter Reports

If there is no chapter near you, join with other members or nonmembers to start one. For more information, contact Patricia Fry at


Tom and Karen SternerHowe of Lafayette, Colorado had their first meeting at Appleby's in Louisville on Thursday, January 27. The theme for the meeting was "Show & Tell," giving folks the opportunity to display their work and get to know one another, as well as discussing the serious business of expanding membership and researching and sharing resources. A report of this meeting will appear in the next edition of SPAWNews. If you are interested in attending a meeting, please e-mail or


The meeting is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., February 2 at Borders. For meeting information, contact


If you are interested in attending SPAWN chapter meetings in the Baltimore, MD area, or wish to be a guest speaker at a meeting, please contact Ramona Davis, Baltimore Chapter Leader,

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(Note: The following letter has been edited for space.)


I hope you can direct me to a publisher or agent who would have interest in my 862-page manuscript. It’s a novelization based on true events—not plot driven, but a life journey. It’s at once a passionate memoir, a love/hate story, a rich portrait of a complex American family poised for misfortune at the beginning of the Great Depression and a human saga revealed with passion and understanding.

I have written one book, newspaper columns and magazine articles, but this is my first novel. I’m ready for an agent to help me take manuscript to book and beyond. Who is interested in big books? Thanks for your time.


Dear Barbara:

First, congratulations on having completed such a large project. It sounds as though you enjoyed the journey. How long have you been working on it?

You asked about finding an agent. I suggest that you study agent listings online and in print. There's the "Guide to Literary Agents," published in print form by Writer's Digest Books (available at most bookstores and libraries). You can also find agents listed at the Association of Author's Representatives Web site ( Or try or for listings.

You've got the right idea to seek an agent who will handle large manuscripts such as yours. But also choose one who doesn't charge a reading fee. Many agents will ask for small amounts of money to help with postage, making copies and so forth. This is okay. But stay away from those who request hundreds of dollars upfront.

You'll want to select an agent who has a good track record. Most legitimate agents will share information about their successes with potential clients. I recommend agents who have been around for a while or, at least, who have a strong affiliation within the publishing industry. You should be able to locate this type of critical information about literary agents at the sources I mentioned. If you happen to have the 2005 edition of "Writer's Market," you'll find their recommendations for literary agents listed on pages 96 through 115.

While scanning the listings in "Writer's Market" and online, I stumbled upon these possibilities: Albert Zuckerman at Writers House and Ted Weinstein at I know nothing about either of these agents other than what I read briefly in WM and online, but they may be worth checking out.

You might also contact agents who have represented books similar to yours. Go to a mega-bookstore and find books similar to yours—in size and in style. Read the acknowledgments page and see if the author mentions his/her literary agent. Contact that agent.

Most agents and publishers want to see a book proposal at some point in the process. So you might start working on one, now. I generally recommend that authors write the book proposal first. If you need help writing a book proposal, check out the new ebook at the SPAWN Web site. It's called, "How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less,"

So to answer your question about locating a literary agent, it's just a matter of doing the research and then contacting those who seem appropriate. Most want to see a query letter as a first step. Next, they might ask for your book proposal. Why a book proposal rather than the manuscript? To find out if you have a good handle on targeting your audience, to make sure you have a promotional plan in place and to determine your willingness to help with promotion.

Best of luck.


Patricia Fry, President

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)

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Book Review

by Patricia Fry "How 'U' Can Compete with the Giants of Publishing"

By Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow

Unlimited Publishing LLC, 2005

This isn't a new book—in fact, it is in the third printing. But it's new to me and maybe to you. Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow first published this book in 2000 as a guide to self-publishing. It was a heftier volume then. But these two giants in the world of self-publishing have hit on a new idea. They've tied their Web site to the book. If you want additional information or a list of references, instead of turning to another page in the book, you go to the matching Web site, (Be sure to use the hyphen or you wind up in an entirely different atmosphere.)

To read the full review of "How 'U' Can Compete with the Giants of Publishing", go to

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What’s Wrong When Your Web Site is Ineffective?

By Virginia Lawrence

Sometimes a Web site seems to evoke little response. When that happens, it’s important to research all aspects of the visitors and their experience.

Read about how to determine what's wrong with your seb site at


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Ask the Book Doctor

By Bobbie Christmas

Chicago Style (free offer!), Presenting Self-Published Books to Agents, Disclaimers and Trademarks

To find out more about these and other topics go to

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Chutzpah Gets a Writer Published

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

I was introduced to my favorite fishing hole by a publishing "connection." The spot is Tim Pond Wilderness Camps in a remote area of northwestern Maine, where dry fly fishing for trout is the order of the day.

In the late 60s, Thomas Gardner Paynter, the VP and buyer for Walden was introduced to the camp by Bob Quinn, a salesman for Rand McNally who invited Tom and the buyer at Woolworth to a few days of fishing. Back then the Rand McNally Atlas sold well at Walden and Woolworth.

In 1972 Tom (TGP to us) brought me and a bunch of others to Tim Pond—and my life was changed forever. Until that time I had been a fresh- and saltwater fisherman. But this world of seven and eight foot lightweight fly rods—with the line 20 and 30 feet in the air, zipping past my ear, to land precisely where I had seen a trout jump—was an epiphany. I had found the Nirvana of fishing.

Naturally I wanted to share this out-of-the-way "haunt" with others, so I wrote an inquiry letter to Field and Stream magazine.

Read about how chutzpah can get a writer published at

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Member News

SPAWN member Jim Barrett recently received the kind of news every author loves to get. His true crime book, "Ma Duncan" was a finalist (runner-up) in a contest presented by USA Book News in their attempt to recognize the Best Books in 2004. "Ma Duncan" details the devious, evil mind of Elizabeth Ann Duncan, a woman so filled with jealousy and a twisted obsession with her attorney son, Frank, that she planned the murder of her pregnant daughter-in-law. This true story took place in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (California) in the 1950s. USA Book News writes, "Barrett creates a work that is frighteningly captivating, emphasizing the fragility of the human mind and the extent to which one woman went to fulfill her obsession." Read the review at Order the book through Patricia Fry interviewed Jim Barrett for the February edition of the SPAWN Market Update. Jim published his book through Ivy House, a co-publisher. His assignment was to sell 1000 books, at which point the publishing contract would become a royalty agreement. He fulfilled this obligation within 10 months time. In his interview, he tells how he accomplished this. He says that co-publishing has been financially beneficial to him.

F & W Publications, Inc. and SPAWN member Outskirts Press, Inc. jointly announced a one-year partnership focusing on Writer’s Digest’s most established writing competition. Specifically, the 74th Annual Writing Competition Compilation will be published by Outskirts Press and made available for retail and wholesale distribution November 2005. Brent Sampson, President/CEO of Outskirts Press says, "Only through membership with associations like SPAWN has Outskirts Press succeeded in growing so fast and forming strategic partnerships with companies like F & W. Thank you for all you do." Located in Parker, Colorado, and online at, Outskirts Press publishes high quality paperback and hardback books for individual writers as well as businesses. Through its turnkey, customized book publishing services, Outskirts Press offers unprecedented power to the author, including creative control, pricing authority, and quantity influence.

Dr. Vanessa S. O'Neal, Crystal Spirit Publishing, Inc., announces the February 2005 release of her new book, "Denomination - Does It Really Matter? - The Clarion Call To The Church" (Crystal Spirit Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-9711938-1-9, $15.95). It is a well-written and inspiring challenge to Christians everywhere to reevaluate their roles in ministry and as Christians. You can order Dr. O'Neal’s book from Dr. O'Neal was a guest on the Artist First Networks on January 24. The show will air again in February.

It's never too late to get your book reviewed. Mridu Khullar at Writers Crossing, an India-based Web site for professional writers, recently reviewed Patricia Fry's 1996 book, "Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your Book",

Jody Ehrhardt wrote a lovely review of Patricia Fry's ebook, "How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less" for Jenna Glatzer's Absolute Write Web site and newsletter. Read the review at Order the ebook, which you will need to help you write your successful book proposal, from the SPAWN ebook store at

Mary Ellen Waszak, President, iWrite Publications Inc.,, announces "A Guide to Chicago Book Publishers—4th Edition." It profiles over 190 area publishers: what they publish, who they hire, and how to get connected; and "Hellcat Historian: Stories of World War II's 12th Armored Division." It is a personal memoir and historical research told as great stories. For more information,

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Note: SPAWNews advises "caveat emptor" when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you.

Bookman Publishing offers its authors guaranteed radio exposure on the AM/FM radio shows of their choice. For just $399, Bookman Publishing guarantees to book you at least one interview (the first show might lead to more interviews at no charge). Choose your market and even the show subject. Or choose a syndicated show that will air on 10 to 50 participating AM/FM stations. If they are not able to book the interview in the market you want, they will refund your $399. (Once the interview is booked, they cannot refund the fee.) For more information write or call: Brien Jones, Author Consultant, Bookman Publishing, 35 Industrial Dr., Suite 104, Martinsville, IN 46151, phone (800) 342-6068, fax (765) 342-7217,, or

"A Cup of Comfort" is a bestselling book series, published by Adams Media, featuring powerful true stories about the experiences and relationships that inspire and enrich our lives. These engaging personal essays—written by people from all walks of life—are carefully selected for inclusion in "A Cup of Comfort" based on originality, creativity, and substance. Colleen Sell, editor of 12 volumes in this bestselling series, is seeking submissions for two exciting new "Cup of Comfort" anthologies: "A Cup of Comfort for Nurses" (submission Deadline: February 1, 2005) and "A Cup of Comfort for Grandparents" (submission Deadline: April 1, 2005). Stories must be original, true, positive, in English, and 1,000-2,000 words. Payment: One $500 grand prize per book; $100 each, all other published stories; plus copy of book. Guidelines: (click on "Share Your Story") or email request to

Submissions are now being accepted for astonishing, amusing and aggravating experiences with cats. Write a true short story, article or poem on the comfort, joy and meaning cats bring to our lives. Deadline March 1, 2005. Or, do you have a great fish story? Hunting story? A funny camping story that included wildlife? An astonishing survival experience that involved wildlife? Deadline April 1, 2005. All work must be unpublished. E-mail or postal mail as a Word document, or include it in the body of the email. Include your name, address and phone number on the first page of the piece. For more information, or

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Contests and Awards

Read about the latest contests at:

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Events and More

Please note: Although SPAWNews does its best to filter announcements and press releases for various events, seminars, and classes, we cannot guarantee a successful experience for all who attend.

Read about the coming events at:

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SPAWN is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Donations are tax deductible.

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Join SPAWN now and receive one FREE book by Patricia Fry. See the selection from which you can choose your book at the Member Benefits page. As a member, you can enjoy the benefits of the Members Only Area. There you will find:

  • Member Forum. In the SPAWN Forum, you can discuss publishing with knowledgeable published writers and publishers.
  • Market Update. This valuable Market Update will appear every month, letting us know exactly what is going on with magazine and book publishers.
  • Event Calendar where you can submit your events. After approval, your events will be available for all members to see.
  • Member Webpages where you can upload your HTML pages to build your own Web site. Your Web pages will be viewable by everyone on the Internet.
  • Member Catalog where you can list your books and services
  • Member Discussion list where you can discuss your triumphs and questions with your publishing peers.

Join SPAWN now by clicking on the "Join SPAWN Now" button at the top of this page.

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SPAWNews SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023


Telephone: 805-646-3045

Fax: 805-640-8213

Wendy Dager

SPAWNews Editor, Membership and Database Coordinator


Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Webmaster


Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Executive Director


Patricia Fry

SPAWN President


Advisory Council

Carol Doering

Dallas Glenn

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane


Marcia Grad-Powers


Melvin Powers


Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Jean Wade


Board of Directors (as of December 1, 2003)

Patricia Fry

Author, Publisher

President of SPAWN

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Writer, Editor, Webmaster

Executive Director of SPAWN

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer of SPAWN

Richard F.X. O'Connor

Author, Publisher, Editor, Consultant

Tamara Dever

Book Designer

SPAWN Founder

Mary Embree

Author, Editor, Literary Consultant of SPAWN


To promote the literary arts and provide education, information, resources and a supportive networking environment for artists, writers, and other creative people interested in the publishing process.

Submission Guidelines

Members and Nonmembers: Please send your press releases, seminar information, and books for review to Wendy Dager, Editor, SPAWNews

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023

or email

SPAWN membership dues are $45 per year; spouses, half-price. Make your check payable to SPAWN and mail to P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653. Or click on Member Application to fill out the secure online form and pay your dues by credit card.

SPAWNews, Member Directory and Web site listings, and discounts for SPAWN events are included in membership.

SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023



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