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SPAWNews is packed with writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing information. Each month you receive market opportunities, events, and articles you can use now!
Not sure? Check out back issues of SPAWNews on our blog, or in the older SPAWNews archives)

SPAWNews Archives

SPAWNews, November, 2004

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

- Special SPAWN Offer

- Market Update

- 13 Digit ISBN

- Chapter Reports

- Q&A

- Interview With Mary Embree

- Book Review

- SPAWNdiscuss Sampler

- Ask the Book Doctor

- Member News

- Opportunities

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

SPAWNews a Success--Thanks to Our Readers

By Wendy Dager

Rather than one of my monologs about the businesses of writing, publishing and art, I thought it would be nice to share with our readers the wonderful comments we received about last month’s column on thankfulness, as well as their gratitude for the assistance provided by Patricia Fry, President of SPAWN. Note: Some of these e-mails have been edited due to space constraints.

For Wendy (especially) but to all at SPAWN:

"Thank you" for reminding us to be both courteous and gracious. In all our hurry-up-

get-it-to-me-yesterday worlds, it sometimes gets overlooked! My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you for all the work you put in to SPAWN!

Best personal regards,


Dear Wendy,

In response to your thoughtful reminder of the need for more "thank yous", I would like to offer you my personal and sincere thanks! I thought you might like to hear that I was thrilled when I found your SPAWN newsletter. I look forward to it each month as it is filled with insightful and informative information that I would not otherwise be able to access. L.


Just read your column in SPAWN. It was great! Although I consider myself to be fairly courteous, a reminder such as yours is quite welcome.

Thank you,


Dear Wendy:

Loved your piece in the newsletter. E.

Thanks for SPAWNews. R.

(For Patricia Fry, President of SPAWN.)

Thank you very much for your very informative e-mail! I truly appreciate the information! K.

Thanks, Patricia, for the info on the California Book Awards. I'll consider entering my 2005 book in next year's contest.

Best regards,


Patricia: Thanks for alerting writers to the California Book Awards contest. I wish I had known about it before now. I would encourage anyone with a book published in 2004 to send books to competition. R.A.

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

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

Free Book for Renewing Members

If you would like to become a SPAWN member or if you haven’t yet renewed your membership, do so now. Go to the first page of the site: Click on the Renew Now button in the upper left corner and receive a FREE book.

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SPAWN Market Update

SPAWN members will get their money’s worth in news, information and resources from the November edition of the Market Update. We’re announcing 14 new publishers and magazines plus over a dozen opportunities for artists, writers, authors, photographers and even young writers. Learn about 8 new publishers who are hungry for fiction and nonfiction submissions. They want manuscripts on business, health, economics, spirituality, hobbies, cooking, photography, sex, sports, animals and more. Patricia Fry offers guidelines and tips for finding the right place to get your book reviewed. She helps authors to think outside the Library Journal and Kirkus "box". She shares some inside tips with freelance article writers. This month’s interview involves a complaint about a POD Publisher. Be sure to read the gory details.

You’ll find:

  • 8 publishers looking for manuscripts
  • A book publisher and a magazine looking for writing on seniors
  • Jobs for writers
  • More opportunities for poets
  • Why article writers must always live in the fast lane…
  • Where to submit animal-related manuscripts
  • A request for a Spanish-speaking radio writer
  • A publisher who encourages a collaboration of poet and artist
  • An excellent way to promote your book for FREE!
  • How to get reviews and how much they can help

All back issues of the Market Update are also available in the Member's Only area of the SPAWN Web site,

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Get Ready for the New 13-Digit ISBN

SPAWN recently received notice from Bowker, the U.S. ISBN Agency, that the publishing industry is going through a transition from 10- to 13-digit ISBNs. By January 1, 2007, all book-related products must carry the 13-digit ISBN.

New purchasers of ISBN blocks will receive 13 digits instead of the 10. Publishers with books they’re already distributing will have to add 3 digits to the ISBN on each of their books. In early 2005, Bowker will provide a conversion utility for those who have the old 10-digit ISBN. The conversions will be available at and SPAWN will report on this change again after the first of the year. Guidelines and information can be found at the International ISBN agency site, or go to and click on "Transition to 13-digit ISBN". For questions, contact Doreen Gavesande, Senior Director ISBN/SAN/PAD Data Acquisitions, or Andrew Grabios at 908-219-0238 or

Everyone with a 10-digit ISBN will be given a 978 prefix. Once this prefix is used up, they will go to 979 and so on.

Why this change? According to Ms. Gavesande, it’s a matter of joining the rest of the world. It will make it easier for publishers to communicate with "trading partners" such as distributors, retailers, librarians, wholesalers and booksellers worldwide who will all be conforming to the 13-digit standard.

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SPAWN Chapter Reports

If there is no chapter near you, join with other members or nonmembers to start one. If you would like to meet with other SPAWN members, contact Patricia Fry at


The Austin SPAWN Chapter is on temporary hiatus as leader Tamara Dever spends time with her newborn son. For meeting information, or to volunteer to temporarily lead meetings, contact her at


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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Dear Mrs. Fry,

I just started at a new school, and at this school each student has an arts area. My arts area is creative writing. The creative writing students will be having a read-aloud for all the parents. I've run into a problem with my writing and I thought you might be able to help. I can't seem to find a way to "grab the reader's attention." Not all of the kids will be allowed to read, so the teachers are holding auditions. There is a lot of competition. Some of the students are in eighth grade and their pieces are awesome. I was wondering if maybe you could help me figure a way to liven up my stories. How do you "juice up" your stories? Also, how do you come up with ideas for your stories? Are they natural?



Hello there, Deborah:

Thanks for your email. It sounds as though you've met up with quite a challenge and that you are taking it seriously. Good for you. As for how to "juice up" your stories, there are several techniques. First, I can see that you are articulate in your writing. Writing so that your readers can understand and follow the story is important. Based on the construction of your email to me, you seem to have that aspect nailed.

And you are right—you want to grab the readers’ attention. It is also important that a story have enough (but not too much) vivid detail. You want the reader to be able to see, hear, touch, taste and smell your story—in other words, experience it at all levels of his/her "beingness". It is the writer's job to paint a picture with words. But you don't want him/her to become bogged down with detail.

You asked how I handle my own stories—frankly, I no longer write stories. I write nonfiction. However, the articles and nonfiction books I write must be entertaining as well as informative. I often attempt to "grab" readers by using shock value or by reaching down into their very core of caring. For example, I often address hopeful authors by saying, "Are you tired of being rejected?" or "Do you dream of making a living as a writer?" or "What is the main obstacle to your success as a writer?"

By grabbing the reader’s attention, I have fulfilled part of my obligation to him/her. Now I must keep their attention while touching them in some way. I am successful when a reader learns something from my article/book, or is changed in some way because of my article/book. The goals of a storyteller are similar.

It helps to climb into the head of the reader. That's fairly easy to do because you are a reader and you know what stories touch you. Do you know why? Maybe that’s a good place to start—evaluate the stories that you enjoy most and figure out what senses these stories touch and observe some of the techniques these writers use.

As for coming up with ideas—I've written articles on the subject. One of these articles was published in "Writer's Digest" (magazine). I suggest looking everywhere for ideas. There are story ideas in everything you do: riding your bike, sitting under a tree in your backyard, floating down a stream on a raft, playing basketball with friends, eating supper with your family, sitting in church, even watching TV. Pay attention to what is going on around you—notice the newspaper cartwheeling down the pathway in the breeze, note the demeanor/gestures of family members while they're eating, notice the people around you in church—is there someone who would make a good character for one of your stories?

Spend time looking at the treetops or the clouds and practice coming up with descriptive words and even parables.

It's all a matter of paying close attention. Each daily experience might contain a story, a phrase you could use in a story, a character for a story or a plot. Once you start paying closer attention, you are going to have soooooo many story ideas, you won't know where to start.

I hope this helps and good luck with your project.


Patricia Fry

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(Note: The following letter was not edited for grammar, as the writer was not from the U.S. It was, however, shortened due to space constraints.)

Dear Sir or Madam,

I had writings of journal in English about 290 pages for past 6 years. The most questionable part was writing that I was almost murdered by medical care in Taiwan and how struggle my life in here.

I heard your name from newsletter of writing-world. Hope you will interested in my story and have good chance from you for publishing.

Sincerely Yours,


Dear Jenny,

We are not a publishing company, but a networking organization for authors and freelance writers. Here, you can learn how to locate and approach publishers as well as how to self-publish your work. As a member of SPAWN, you will have access to the information you need and you will have the opportunity to meet other authors who can guide you through their own experiences.

Visit us at


Patricia Fry, President

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)

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Interview With SPAWN Founder Mary Embree

Mary Discusses Her New Book

PF: You have a new book out and I hear it's a collaborative effort. Please tell us about it.

Mary: The book is "Reflections: A Collection of Memories" and it was written by eight members of a memoir writing group I formed over two and a half years ago at my church. Each member contributed about 25 pages in the book. There were no rules about the subjects they could write about as long as they were their own memoirs, and the members chose which of their stories would be included in the book.

PF: How many of the contributors were published before this book?

Mary: No one had been published prior to joining the memoir writing group (except me). However, a couple of members subsequently tried their hand at writing articles and both were successful in getting published in a local newspaper.

PF: You've also had some tremendous publicity locally for the book. What do you think is creating all of this interest?

Mary: I sent news releases and letters to two newspapers, following them up with phone calls, and they paid off. The fact that there is a trend toward people writing their memoirs helped convince the reporters that this was more than a local story. The local newspaper, The Ventura County Star, devoted half a page to our story. A major newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, included our memoir group in an article on memoir writing, which they placed on the front page. The article, which continued inside on page 31, told about us, and the book. This story was not just in the Ventura County section of the L.A. Times, it was in the full run, a huge circulation. Both newspapers also included a large picture of our group.

PF: I understand that the cover of the book has a story—how did it come about?

Mary: One of our members, Phyllis Luyken, is also a fine artist. We asked her to paint a picture for the cover and she produced a beautiful piece of artwork.

PF: Collaboration is an interesting process. Would you talk about how your group managed the process successfully? Were there any difficult moments? How were these handled?

Mary: As the facilitator of the group, I can honestly say that there were no difficult moments. When I started the group I said that there would be no rules, except for one, there were to be no critiques, no negative comments about the stories or the writing. Encouragement and positive reinforcement were encouraged. Each of us reads our story at each meeting and we have a brief discussion after each reading. Often it is a comment about how difficult, or amusing, or interesting their experience was. Sometimes we want to comment on how well written their memoir is or how well they captured the moment.

PF: When you joined together with the memoir group, what was your combined goal? Was publishing part of the plan?

Mary: Publishing never entered our minds. We just wanted to be involved in a group that met to read our writings about our lives. We felt it would encourage all of us to write more if we were in a group. And it has.

PF: What will become of the memoir group now that they have been published?

Mary: We continue to meet each month and continue to write. We have formed such warm friendships and enjoy each other’s company so much that we don’t want to stop meeting. How many friends do you have who really know about your childhood, your struggles and joys, your losses and discoveries? Probably not many. We have found that knowing so much about each other’s backgrounds has given our friendships a dimension beyond the usual, a deeper understanding, a greater compassion for each other.

PF: You have been published numerous times and you've helped others become published authors. What are your future plans professionally?

Mary: I plan to write more books. Although I enjoy editing, consulting, and teaching, I am first and foremost a writer and I haven’t been doing as much of that as I’d like. I have two books going now. One is almost finished. It is a reference book, mainly about word meanings. The other is my memoirs. There was a period in my life that was so interesting that I think I might find a publisher for this part of it. There are about five more books in me that I want to get to, both novels and nonfiction. I will need to live a very long time to get to them all.

PF: What would you advise others who might wish to form a writing group or memoir group? What is your secret for success?

Mary: If you are a member of a church or other group that contains people who are similar to you in your goals, beliefs, interests, etc. you could announce that you are starting a memoir writing group and see who shows up. That’s what I did. Eventually, the people who wish to continue show up again and again and the group materializes. You will need a consistent place and time to meet. Do not allow negative criticism. This is discouraging and disheartening to people who may not have a lot of confidence about their writing. Create an atmosphere of trust and compassion and your group will flourish. I enjoy this memoir writing group so much that I have started a second one. Both of the groups meet once a month at my home.

PF: How can we order the book?

Mary: You may order books by writing to Seaview Publishing, P.O. Box 985, Ventura, CA 93002. The book is $15 and shipping & handling is $2 per book ($17 total). If you order four or more books (all going to the same address), S&H is only $4 per order. Please send a check payable to Seaview Publishing. The books will be sent out within a few days of receipt of the order. For more information, e-mail me at

Note: Because of the publicity generated by the L.A. Times’ article, Mary Embree’s memoir group has been interviewed and taped by Brian Rooney and Peter Imber of ABC World News. The segment will air in November, after the election.

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Book Review By Virginia Lawrence

Grammar Traps: A Handbook of the 20 Most Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by Stephen Dolainski

ISBN: 0-9727803-1-9

$10.95 (Paperback)

125 pages (includes bibliography and index)

Distributor: Baker & Taylor

After doing technical writing/editing for years, I saw an ad for a job opening. The ad stated that the candidate must have the usual years of experience. Then it concluded with: "Must know how to use ‘which’ and ‘that’."

Well, I’d been using which and that, assuming that when my sentences flowed, everything was fine. The ad caused me to research the difference in the "Chicago Manual of Style" but I found that explanation rather unclear. Since then, I’ve gone back to those pages in "Chicago Manual of Style" several times, and the explanation still doesn’t clarify the issue for me.

Then I found "Grammar Traps"!

To read the full review of Grammar Traps, go to

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SPAWNdiscuss Sampler

The following is information in Q&A format shared by SPAWN members who participate in SPAWNdiscuss, an online discussion group. If you’re not already a member of SPAWN, you can join by going to

Q: Any suggestions on the discount structure on sales to book stores or on other bulk sales?

A: When I sell books to stores, they usually want a 40-45% discount, which is reasonable.

Q: Do bookstores normally pay shipping? If so, what is reasonable? Do you charge shipping on other bulk orders?

A: Yes. I charge for shipping.

Q: Has anyone been able to get Ingram or Baker & Taylor to carry their book as an independent author/publisher?

A: If you are a member of PMA or SPAN and have your own ISBNs, Baker & Taylor will distribute your books, giving you a discount on joining them. However, B&T take between 55-45% discount (you have to negotiate) and 90 days to pay. I'm having trouble getting them to pay me what they owe me for books shipped back in February, March and April, way beyond the 90-day period. This happens frequently, and it's a rip-off that we pay the distributors to do what we could do ourselves, except it's a closed shop for publishers. Ingram is pretty much a closed shop for small publishers unless you use Lightning Source as a printer.

Q: Has anyone been able to get in to a large number of book stores without going through Ingram or Baker & Taylor?

A: Not me. But then bookstores aren't always the best place to sell books. If you do get in stores, you can get stuck with the beat-up returns and shipping costs. Try getting Quality Books to carry your books. They sell to libraries.

Q: Can any of you claim that your book is an "Award Winning Book"?

A: My self-help health book, "Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection" was a finalist in Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year competition, (health category) up against the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Results were announced at BEA in 2003.

Q: Does this distinction sell books?

A: Very much so. The gold foil sticker on the cover is a nonverbal endorsement of the book's quality as prospective buyers browse bookstore shelves. When I give health lectures and refer to my book, I mention the award and get an appreciative "O-o-o-o h" from the audience.

Q: Is it worth your while to enter contests?

A: Yes indeed. Even if you get an Honorable Mention, you can use this for marketing leverage later. Don't be shy about tooting your horn. Some contests charge high fees, so every entry has to be a hard business decision. E.g., how many books do you have to sell to cover the fee? How is the award publicized? Is there something tangible that goes with it—like a foil seal for your book cover? Highlighting your title on a much-visited Web site? Feature of winners in a highly circulated magazine? Some fees don't match the payoff, so be careful. Also, some free Internet contests may be a ruse to steal your material and publish elsewhere without attribution. Be careful.

Q: What are some of your experiences with contests?

A: I enter other kinds of small, local writing contests (short stories, poetry, etc.) and sometimes win. A bonus: the author bio can be used to plug my book and/or Web site ( The Southwest Manuscripters, a writing club here in Southern CA, sponsors three annual contests. Winning one means I can use that prize money to pay my dues. The UCLA booth at the West Hollywood, CA Book Fair has a creative writing contest (free entry). I won last year. The prize was a $125 all-day Saturday class at UCLA. When we students introduced ourselves, I mentioned that I was a published author, and sold two books during the break.

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Ask the Book Doctor

By Bobbie Christmas

Drafts, Travel-Writing Courses, Fiction Outlines and Copy Editing

Q: After the first draft of my novel is done, should I send it to my agent to get suggestions for revisions or forge on, revising on my own? I prefer to get this answer prior to asking my agent herself, as I hate to appear stupid.

A: A first draft is a first draft. The keyword is "draft," or maybe it’s "first." The point is, the first time you do anything, it’s not yet the best it can be, and the term "draft" by itself implies a lack of polish and completion.

Never send a first draft to an agent or publisher. To improve your chances of selling the manuscript, send it nowhere until you have made it the best it can be. If you must take your manuscript to two, three, five, or ten revisions, do so, don’t send it out until you know you have reached the point that you cannot improve it one iota. At that point, you can send it to agents or publishers. If agents or publishers are interested, they may suggest further revisions, but only because they recognize that the novel is "almost" there. If the novel needs too much work, some agents and most publishers won’t consider it.

Q: Bobbie, do you have an opinion of the travel-writing courses offered in (name deleted to avoid impropriety)?

A: I don't have an opinion about the quality of the course because I haven't seen the contents or spoken with anyone who took the course, so my answer will be a little tainted by lack of knowledge. Frankly, though, I didn't like the promotional literature for the course. It spends thousands of words building a picture of a life of luxury visiting foreign places and getting paid for it. It describes how you can work from home without travel and earn a terrific income. It implies that you will become a completely successful travel writer and that it is a dream job. It gives "success" story after "success" story, but it never says you will have to work and you have to market yourself and you will have downtime when you have no assignments. It sets up a fantasy image—typical in every over-the-top direct-sales pitch—but it does little to explain the actual course.

Travel writers rarely live the life the course literature describes. Getting travel-writing assignments is as difficult getting any other kind of assignment, and few people get the rich assignments mentioned in the course literature. I consider the information misleading. The information is vague in far too many places, too. For example, it says at "several critical junctures," you can send in your work for evaluation. It doesn't explain how many times you get your work evaluated and what the evaluation covers.

It says you can "get started for only $49." It does not say how much the entire course costs. It mentions "additional chapters" that will be sent monthly, but it doesn't give the cost for future chapters, the number of chapters you must buy to complete the course, or the number of months it will take. I would not commit to anything without knowing the total cost and whether I would get feedback throughout the course. I went to the company Web site and found that the total course costs $274, but you can get a ten percent discount for paying in advance.

Instead of a highly pitched, overpriced course, you could glean sufficient information on travel writing from a book. I saw three current travel-writing books on priced between $12 and $15. Those prices are significantly lower than the $49 "introductory chapter" of the travel-writing course.

Q: I'm having difficulty coming up with a plot for a fiction story in the mystery/suspense genre. I've tried beginning with the character and a seed of an idea and see where it goes. I've tried beginning with the seed of an idea and developing it in a timeline, but as I worked and worked on it, I lost interest in the story and felt depleted of any creative inspiration or passion for the story or the characters I began developing.

I've been writing for well over ten years, have taken classes, have participated in creative exercises, have studied and practiced most of the components of "good fiction"—i.e., plotting, character development, pacing, etc.—yet I still feel like a talent-less hack. I know I'm not, really, but why is it I just can't come up with a good story?

I read a quote last year that stuck with me: "Avoid spending a lot of time coming up with a perfect idea that no one else has come up with before. There are no unique ideas—the uniqueness comes from your writing and approach." I understand and agree with that philosophy, yet it seems beyond me to even come up with ANY idea, unique or not.

Do you have any words of advice or suggestions that might help me head in a direction that will get me past this block or lack of confidence or whininess (probably all three)?

A: What a tall order! I’m having the same issues with a children’s book I’m supposed to write that uses a line of dolls that have already been created. I’ve been given the characters (the dolls) and must make up mystery stories that involve them. As an old nonfiction writer, I create a chapter-by-chapter outline, first. True, I hated outlines when I was in school, but they actually help me write fiction, so I can be sure that every chapter will have mystery, suspense, action, tension, and conflict. It’s easier for me to start with an outline and manipulate it all I want before I begin the actual writing.

One of the earliest lessons I learned about fiction writing has to do with where to begin the story: start in the middle of things. Susan Graham, the literary agent who owns About Words Agency, says it even better: Start when things go wrong. As a cliché, think of it as the missionaries in a pot of boiling water surrounded by cannibals. How will the missionaries get out? Will they get out? Later we can find out how they got there, but when the story opens, readers want to see drama, trauma, conflict, and tension.

How do you keep up the suspense and tension? Think "What if." What if the missionaries stepped out of the boiling water and into the fire? What if one escaped and ran into the arms of the hungriest cannibal in the pack? What if one helped the other escape and raised the ire of the leader of the pack?

What if, what if…keep applying that theory throughout the story. Find ways to crank up the tension and conflict at every turn. Look for "what if" situations that can happen to the characters and among them. What if Character A falls in love with Character B? What if Character B is married to Character C? What if Character C has a history of mental illness? What if the doctor who treated Character C … who knows? Those emotional elements can be figured out in an outline as well as where the actual story goes.

An outline is merely a guide, though. It helps you set the original premise, which in fiction must almost always be that the main character wants something really badly, and something or someone must get in the way to thwart that main character and make the mission difficult. In the case of the missionaries, they wanted to save the souls of the natives. The natives, however, obviously had a different set of motives; they wanted to savor the soles of the missionaries’ feet! See how you must have characters with different goals, motives and wants?

Next you want to turn up the volume on the suspense and tension, usually with all the things that get in the way of what the main character wants. Once you begin writing based on your outline, your characters may take you places you never expected, and if those places crank up the tension and suspense, let the characters lead the way.

If you have tried every technique you can and still cannot come up with a viable fiction story, do not give up on writing. No one says fiction is the only creative writing in the world. Nonfiction can be equally creative, plus nonfiction sells even better than fiction. Find a subject that interests you and write about it. If you prefer not to research subjects, you can simply tell your personal experiences, and if you write them well enough, you can sell them as fillers and as submissions to collections such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and the Cup of Comfort series.

Q: I was wondering if you have any suggestions about what I can do now in order to obtain a job as a copy editor.

A: I see by the information that you sent that you have the education, but you lack experience. I understand why companies prefer to hire editors who already have professional experience. Experience is the best teacher. I had been a news editor at a weekly paper for years, with no editor above me, yet I learned much more after I moved to a corporate communications department and worked under the steady eye of an excellent editor who taught me more than I ever learned in school or on my own.

You may think the situation is a Catch-22: You need experience to get a job, but you can’t get experience unless you get the job. You do have ways to get experience, though. Volunteer to edit newsletters or literature for a nonprofit organization. Ask around at large companies to find out if they have intern positions (Peachtree Publishing does, for example).

Some places, such as trade magazine publishers, ask that potential copy editors pass a written editing test, and if you can pass such a test, you might be able to get a position that way. If you take such a test, look for obvious as well as the not-so-obvious errors to repair. You will already need to know editing proof marks. Many are often listed in the back of a dictionary. I’ll be glad to send you a list, if you don’t have one. Send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and ask for "Proof Marks." (This offer applies to any interested reader. Send your SASE to the business address listed on my Web site.)

Technical editing is often easier to break into than magazine and newspaper editing. Perhaps you can get experience copy editing on a freelance basis or a contract basis through some of the editing firms in your area.

Copyediting takes a keen eye, a good memory, and a love for improving every sentence. Experienced editors tighten everything, pick strong verbs, and delete unnecessary words. For example, the request, "I was wondering if you have any suggestions about what I can do now in order to obtain a job as a copy editor," would be a little stronger if written this way: "I wonder if you have suggestions about what I can do to obtain a job as a copy editor." Possibly the best rewrite would be this: "What can I do to obtain a job as a copy editor?"

I hope you’ll excuse a little pride in my work, but I recommend that you read my book, "Write In Style", for other tips on words to delete to make writing its strongest.

—Send your questions to the book doctor at Bobbie Christmas is a book editor and author of "Write In Style: Using Your Word Processor and Other Techniques to Improve Your Writing", available in bookstores and online from most bookstore Web sites including,, and "Write in Style" is published by Union Square Publishing and distributed by Simon & Schuster.

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Member News

SPAWN members Erika Dreifus and Bernard Milton participated on a panel titled "The ABC's of POD and Self-Publishing" at the grub street writers’ offices in Somerville, Massachusetts on October 2. Erika reports: "The crowd was small, but lively, and I think everyone learned a lot—including the two of us!"

Mary Embree’s memoir group was interviewed and taped by Brian Rooney and Peter Imber of ABC World News. The segment will air in November, after the election. For more information about the memoir group, see Patricia Fry’s interview with Mary in this edition of SPAWNews.

* * * * *


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

Tapping Your Innate Creativity is entering its sixth year as a highly acclaimed method for writers to stimulate their creative juices. The next online course begins in January with registration starting in November. Because the course is limited to six participants, it often fills up quickly. For details:

Short stories and other creative narratives (journal entry, song, dialogue) are needed to complete the book "Bring on the 20s...Bring on the Funk". Topics include but are not limited to: jobs/career, relationships, family, post-undergrad life, friends, travel, dreams/goals, marriage, children, independence, exploration, society, embarrassing moments, gay/lesbian issues, money issues, living with parents, graduate school, adventures, etc. For complete details: Submissions must be received by December 1, 2004.

The Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) offers a free Copyright Kit on their Web site, Other resources for writers can be found at Barbara Florio Graham’s Web site,

Seeking markets for your short stories? Check out "The Practicing Writer's Directory of 50 Paying Short Story Markets," the latest e-book from Erika Dreifus, editor of the free monthly newsletter, "The Practicing Writer". Free preview with sample listings available. Learn more at . And be sure to keep up with Erika's latest blog posts, full of news and resources on writing and publishing,

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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 all 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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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, P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653 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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