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SPAWNews Archives

SPAWNews, June, 2006

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

- Market Update

- Los Angeles Times Festival Report

- Fry Visits Dubai

- Book Reviews

- Ask the Book Doctor

- Member News

- Opportunities

- Contests

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

By Wendy Dager

Back in April, I told you I’d decided I was going to enter more writing contests, having been inspired by my first-place win in a short story competition last November. When I wrote my April editor’s note, I had entered three contests—one with my unpublished novel, another with a short memoir and a third with some of my previously published newspaper columns.

I’m still waiting on news about the novel and the memoir, but the column contest’s May 1st winners’ notification deadline came and went. This was kind of a bummer for me, as opinion writing has always been my bread-and-butter—albeit an odd career choice for someone who never quite developed the necessary thick skin to deflect some readers’ angry responses. Still, I love the challenge of writing for a newspaper, even though I’m always trying to extend myself creatively.

In mid-April, I did something really silly. I entered USA Network’s Show Us Your Character competition. Some of you may have seen the recent television commercials featuring a ventriloquist, snake charmer, lawnmower racer and other "characters." Along with these professionally-produced promos—which were created to encourage viewers to join USA Network’s new online community—the network held the aforementioned contest. Grand prize was an Internet reality show, TV commercial, video camera and computer. There were five first-place video cameras and ten second-place iPods, as well as a $1,000 Viewer’s Choice Award, where America could vote online for its favorite character.

Imagine my surprise when my grainy, poorly-lit, homemade video was a top 30 finalist out of "thousands" of entries. I’d billed myself as a professional freelance writer and vintage clothing collector. Like the fictional characters that appear on USA Network’s TV shows, I have an unusual job, I deal with people/circumstances/issues that often aren’t what they seem, and I always think/dress/behave the way I do on my video. I don’t have a talent like most of the other finalists. I don’t do voices or sing or dress up in costumes. I was just being me—the oft-criticized opinion columnist who’s also a ‘50s circle skirt and vintage sweater-clad goofball.

My hope was that just being me would be a good marketing gimmick for my career, as I certainly wasn’t going to win one of the seventeen prizes.

Or was I?

At the time of this writing, I had no idea. You’ll have to read next month’s SPAWNews to find out. But, even if I didn’t snag a prize, it’s still nice to know that someone other than my mom thinks I’m a character.

–Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. Visit her Web site at

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Market Update

By Patricia Fry

This month's SPAWN Market Update has nearly 20 opportunities for book promotion, authors, freelance writers and screenwriters, and includes two interviews with publishers and a publishers’ survey. As authors frequently ask me the most important part of a book proposal, I asked some publishers. SPAWN members might be surprised by the answers.

In addition, you'll find tips for getting your book reviewed. Don't miss this enlightening article!

And there’s more. Find out:

  • Where to go for FREE book reviews
  • What’s attractive and what’s a turn off (in book proposals, that is)! Our two interviewed publisher’s opinions…
  • Who is welcoming unsolicited manuscripts
  • The results of the ‘What’s the most important part of the book proposal’ publishers survey!
  • This summer’s hottest book promotion opportunities
  • Check out these genre-specific places for book review opportunities
  • Why does it seem to take so long? Find out about the process that follows your manuscript’s acceptance.

The Market Update is available to SPAWN members only. Every month SPAWN members receive the latest password for the SPAWN Member Area holding the Market Update.

If you are not yet a member of SPAWN and would like to access Market Update and enjoy other benefits of membership, join now online at Just click on the Join SPAWN Now button in the upper left corner of the page!

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Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Report

By Patricia Fry, SPAWN President

SPAWN had another successful weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which was held April 29-30. We had one booth and managed to accommodate five member/authors and their books (two members were co-authors of one book). Of course, SPAWN executive director Virginia Lawrence and I were there. We displayed about a dozen member books. As usual, the SPAWN booth was alive with budding authors who came to learn more about the organization and to ask, "What can you do for me?" We were also visited by hundreds of readers looking for good books to buy. We gave away over 170 copies of our SPAWN Catalog of Members' Books and Services and sold approximately 40 books.

Probably the best part of the weekend was the residual effect that each of us experienced--the bonuses you don't expect. Some made promising professional contacts. Most experienced the joy of giving through our books. There's nothing quite like positive feedback.

Patricia Alexander, co-author of a lovely book called, "The Book of Comforts," described several joyful moments. One involved a 14-year-old boy who gleefully purchased her book—at a discounted price—as a Mother's Day gift for his mom. She also told us about a very sad woman who looked slowly through the book and then raised her eyes, looked at Patricia and said, "I need to buy this book...for me."

The weekend was a mix of hard work, high energy, excitement and camaraderie. The element that I treasured most was the fun and the laughter we shared as we offered one another encouragement and support.

We're already talking about next year. We hope to have at least two booths and many more members involved. Mark your calendar for the last weekend in April 2007 and watch for notices to appear in SPAWNews around December. If you have a book to sell, you'll definitely want to join us in the SPAWN booth at the 2007 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

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From Freelance Writer to World Traveler

Dubai, Here I Come

By Patricia Fry

I was working on a client’s manuscript one afternoon in February when I decided to take an e-mail break. There was the usual accumulation of bulk e-mail, a few writers’ newsletters, comments from colleagues and clients, some chatty e-mails from friends and…what’s this? Hmmm…something from a foreign country. Must be spam. But wait, there’s my name in the subject line: "This is a mail for Patricia L. Fry."

I opened it and read the message. "I introduce myself as Madam Toastmaster, Jaya Mahalingam from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I enjoy reading your articles in The Toastmaster Magazine."

Ms. Mahalingam went on to explain that the Toastmasters’ district conference was coming up and I was invited to be the first woman ever to give the keynote address for the event. While they couldn’t compensate me, they would pay all of my expenses including business class travel and accommodations in a five-star hotel. Jaya also suggested I bring my books to sell during the conference.

Feeling a little dazed, I walked down the hall and into my husband Dennis’s office. I said, "Hey, do you know where Dubai is? What’s the United Arab Emirates?"

"It’s in the Middle East," he said. "Why?"

"Well, I’ve just been invited to go there and give the keynote address before a group of 800 Toastmasters," I told him, still not quite believing what I was saying.

I mean, me in the Middle East? Isn’t there a war going on over there? Is it safe for an American to travel to Dubai? But then I thought about the offer to fly business class and stay in a five-star hotel and I suggested that we turn to the Internet to conduct a little research.

That’s when I knew I would go. According to the Internet, the city of Dubai is beautiful and futuristic. The architecture is amazing and inventive. All indications are that it is a safe place to travel. In fact, this rather new financial hub of the world is becoming quite a popular vacation spot for westerners. I was suddenly eager for adventure and I emailed Jaya that afternoon to accept the invitation. The date of my departure would be May 8, 2006.

I had two months to prepare an hour-long talk. My topic: "How to Present a More Creative Speech." I spent many days writing and fine-tuning the speech and then I began to become familiar with it. I studied the speech every day during my walk. I rewrote and refined it over and over again until it felt just right. I rehearsed in front of a mirror. I practiced it in my head and I recited it out loud. My goal was to know the speech so well that I could give it without actually memorizing it. I wanted to present it from the heart not the head.

I’ve been a Toastmaster off and on for about fifteen years, so I am familiar with the concept of public speaking, and I’ve been promoting my books through workshops and other presentations for the last twenty-five years. What I wasn’t familiar with was the Middle East. What sort of people would make up my audience? I researched and I studied, but I was not prepared for what I encountered once I arrived in Dubai.

First, let me tell you about flying business class. While they separate the first class and the business class passengers, I cannot imagine that those in first class are pampered to any greater degree than I experienced in business class. It is such a luxurious way to fly that, despite the fact that I was in travel mode for 30 solid hours both coming and going--17 hours in the sky each way--I did not suffer a moment of jetlag at either end of my trip.

The seats are roomy and comfortable. There is way more legroom than I needed and the seats lie down flat so that you can actually sleep in flight. Passengers are given a toiletry kit which includes slipper socks, toothbrush and paste and so forth. They periodically bring hot wash cloths so you can freshen up before meals. The drinks come nonstop—and I mean any kind of drink you want. The food is served in courses on actual dishes with cloth napkins and real silverware. It was good, too. I especially enjoyed the cream puff and shortbread cookie with my coffee prior to landing in London just before dawn.

Each passenger has his own TV set with a wide variety of movies and other programs to watch. I enjoyed watching the map showing the plane’s exact route and position at any given time during the trip. It was a little spooky, however, when I watched us fly right over Baghdad. Yikes!

I was greeted at the Dubai airport by a lovely young woman from a meet-and-greet service. It was quite an experience to see my name on a sign as I came off the airplane. I also saw a sign with Tommy Hilfiger’s name on it. I learned later that he was in Dubai opening 25 new stores in the gulf.

English is the common language in Dubai and all signs are in both Arabic and English. I probably would have been able to find my way to the baggage claim, but it was wonderful having guidance with a smile. We went through a security check at every turn. Security is heavy in Dubai—in fact, most stores in the many large shopping malls have security guards. Crime is almost nonexistent there. I didn’t even see graffiti anywhere in Dubai.

Once outside the terminal, I was greeted by several Toastmaster dignitaries, including the conference chairman and the head of education. I was ready for my first cultural lesson. One thing I learned is that a woman does not extend her hand to a man or a woman unless they extend theirs first. Immediately, each of my hosts and hostesses reached out to shake my hand. They were all wonderfully cordial and gracious. I didn’t feel quite so far away from home.

Once at the five-star Marriott Hotel, where the convention was being held, I met other Toastmaster dignitaries. Each of them greeted me with a handshake and a warm smile.

I was on the docket to speak on the second day of the two-day conference, so I had time to observe the people and how they responded to speakers before my performance.

At a Toastmaster District Conference, Toastmasters from the various divisions come to participate in speech contests and to support their fellow Toastmasters who are competing. There were Toastmasters present from clubs in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. They were all so cordial and warm. Many people of varying cultures and religious beliefs went out of their way to greet me—most of them with a handshake and welcoming words in English. I became so used to shaking hands that when one man wearing a white robe and a traditional Arab headpiece introduced himself with a slight bow, I reached my hand out to shake his. He graciously withdrew his hand and placed it on his chest—all the while smiling warmly at me. Uh oh—a faux pas. I bowed in response to express my understanding. We carried on our conversation from there.

On the first day of the conference, I was led to one of four large sofas that had been placed in front of the tables where delegates sat throughout the room. I had a front row seat on a sofa with the dignitaries. I was a celebrity.

I was glad to have a full day to observe people and how they responded to the speakers. By the time I spoke, I felt as though I was speaking to friends, not strangers in a far away foreign country.

The diversity was impossible to miss. The large ballroom was filled with people of varying ethnic groups, cultures and religions. Toastmasters dressed in western garb interacted comfortably and genially with Toastmasters wearing traditional long black robes and burqas. There were men and women wearing clothing reflecting India and men wearing the traditional Middle Eastern robe and headdresses. Some of the Muslim women covered their hair with scarves. There was diversity in dress and obviously in cultures, but there seemed to be no division among the people.

One of the most unusual things I witnessed during this event was a young woman wearing the long black dress and head-covering as well as a burqa—with only her eyes visible through a small slit—participating in a humorous speech contest. She also posed for pictures with the other contestants. How rare it is to get photos of the men and women in these cultures.

I met some fascinating people throughout my stay in Dubai, including a group of women from Jordan who invited me to speak at their senior group. I spoke with several people who are in the process of writing books. A librarian from Dubai came up to me and said that she was glad to finally meet me. She said that she has been checking my books into the library for years. My books are in the library in Dubai? Amazing! It never occurred to me to promote my books outside of the U.S. But now I’m thinking that maybe I should contact other predominantly English-speaking countries and see about getting my books into their libraries and bookstores. The librarian said they have a very large budget for buying books.

Dubai is quite a place to see. I had a little time for touring and made a point of seeing practically all of the things mentioned and pictured in the June 2006 issue of Vanity Fair and other magazines, Web sites, newspapers and on TV. I photographed the amazing seven-star Burj al Arab Hotel, the huge areas of construction going on in the city, the building of the Palm Island with its twenty-four five-star hotels in progress, the manmade ski slope in the largest shopping mall in the world, the sites where they’re building the tallest hotel in the world and the largest manmade harbor in the world.

One thing that surprised me—other than the warmth of the people—was that their water costs more than gasoline. Gas is only around $1.00 gallon. They desalinate eighty percent of their water and use a lot of it to encourage the growth of tropical vegetation. I expected a dry heat, but it was a tropical climate with high humidity. I was surprised to see plumeria trees thriving, large stands of cannas and bougainvilleas in every color. And I was surprised that I traveled so well and enjoyed it so much. The only negative for me was the food. I had a problem with the flavor, aroma and texture of some of the food. I was happy to find an Italian place one night where I chowed down on ravioli.

It was certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that, perhaps, I would have rejected in years past. I would have thought up all sorts of reasons why I shouldn’t go. Actually, my mother had several of her own as to why I shouldn’t go. She was not too happy to see me fly off to a foreign country halfway around the world. But that’s a mother for you. I was a nervous wreck when my daughter went on a mission in India and when my granddaughter went to Fiji on a mission.

My daughters and grandchildren, however, were supportive of my decision to go to Dubai and excited for me, as were many of my friends. And heaven knows I certainly have something to write about in my Christmas letter this year.

So what is the message in this rather unusual article? If you want to experience some of the unique and exotic things that life has to offer, I urge you to keep putting yourself out there through your writing and promotion. Be open to the opportunities that come your way and take steps to make things happen. Continue to hone your writing and speaking skills. And say yes more often, despite your insecurities. Embrace this philosophy and you may soon be going off on an exciting, exotic adventure.

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Book Review

By Patricia Fry

Dan Poynter’s Book Publishing Encyclopedia

A-Z Tips and Resources for Authors and Publishers

by Dan Poynter

Para Publishing (2006)


Paper $19.95

Dan Poynter has produced another helpful book for authors, and this one comes in seven different forms—soft cover, large print and several digital variations. When I first saw this book, I wondered why we needed a stand-alone tips and resources guide taking up space on our shelves or in our computers when we have his "Self-Publishing Manual." All versions of his publishing bible include resources and tips for authors and publishers. But then I took a look at the newest edition of the Manual (an advance review copy of the 15th edition). I compared it to Poynter’s Encyclopedia and found some important differences.

To read the full review of "Dan Poynter’s Book Publishing Encyclopedia: A-Z Tips and Resources for Authors and Publishers," go to

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Book Review

By Sandra J Murphy

The Right Way To Write, Publish and Sell Your Book

by Patricia L. Fry

Available at bookstores, and through

It is estimated that six million people are shopping manuscripts to 80,000 publishers, who publish just 175,000 books a year. That's one in thirty-four! How can you be one of the lucky few? Patricia L. Fry's newest book, "The Right Way To Write, Publish and Sell Your Book," can help strengthen the odds as she dispels old ideas, offers a slap on the head reality check, and explains publishing in a clear readable style.

To read the full review of "The Right Way To Write, Publish and Sell Your Book," go to

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Ask the Book Doctor: Deer Editer, Do I Need a Editer?

By Bobbie Christmas

To read about this and other interesting topics, go to

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Member News

Note: To have your announcements included in this section, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please e-mail your news to

If you're a writer who likes to write about what you know best--writing--you'll be interested in member Erika Dreifus's latest e-book, "Writers' Markets: Where To Sell What You Write When You Write About Writing." Since 2003 Erika has published more than 130 writing-related articles, essays, and book reviews in print and online publications including "The Writer," "Writer's Digest," and "Poets & Writers." Download a free preview with sample market listings (Erika lists only paying markets): or

Paul Daniel of Bear Cave Press announces that "Anna's Wish" received an Honorable Mention for Best Fiction Regional/Midwest at this year's Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY). For more information,

Sandra Murphy’s article "12 Tips for Living With Cancer in Your Animal Companion" appears in the June/July issue of Animal Wellness magazine.

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

St. Louis Writers Guild has launched a writing project to involve the public in writing a tongue-in-cheek book about the Mississippi River--what it's REALLY like! It's an anthology of brief recollections, observations, laments, celebrations, humor, and soapbox tirades--all aimed at revealing aspects of life on the Big Muddy. The working title is "MIGHTY OR MUDDY? Reflections on the Mississippi River by Those Who Know it Well." Publication is planned for October 2006, after which the original submissions binder (with autographed submissions) will be raffled or auctioned off. This is a St. Louis literary, historical event. For more information: Deadline is August 31, 2006. The address to send submissions is St. Louis Writers Guild, Collaborative Book Project, POB 771765, St. Louis, MO 63177, or fax: 314-821-3823.

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

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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