SPAWN regularly publishes articles on a variety of topics of interest to our members and the publishing community. To find articles on specific topics, please use the drop down menus. We accept submissions from the community for publication. If you have an article, (limit 2,500 words), please send to kate@spawn.org.

New Klepto Cat Mystery

Patricia Fry, former Director of SPAWN, has published her twenty-third Klepto Cat Mystery, Cattywampus Travels. She has also produced her first audio book on Amazon and iTunes.

Catnapped, Book One in the Klepto Cat Mystery series, has been completely revised and is now available as an audio book narrated by voiceover professional, Dena Dahilig.

More Good News!!
Three new books published this year!
Book 21—Merriment, Mayhem, and Meows (January)
Book 22—A Christmas to Purr About (March)
Book 23—Cattywampus Travels (May)

Coming in July:
Book 24—Cats in the Belfry
Coming in the Fall:
Book 25—(No title yet)

BONUS —we have a great NEW website designed by Virginia Lawrence, Cognitext. http://www.KleptoCatMysteries.com

See all of the Klepto Cat books, read the description of each book, learn more about the author and the cats, and find ordering information

Follow her Catscapades blog daily  or Like KleptoCatMysteries on Facebook.

What’s your excuse for not writing today?

Are you unmotivated? Too tired from working your nine-to-five job? Is your computer on the fritz? Don’t know what to write about? Can’t get published because you’re too old? Too young? Maybe you’re thinking, “Why bother? Who wants to hear what I have to say?”

Authors Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell have heard nearly every excuse out there from their readers, students, and mentees as to why their article ideas aren’t being pitched to magazine editors or why their half-written novels languish on hard drives. And to be honest, Formichelli and Burrell have used some of these excuses to avoid taking action with their own writing careers. With over twenty years (each) in the publishing business, they’ve learned that excuses are nothing but roadblocks to success.

In Write It Anyway: Bust The Excuses and Become The Writer You Want To Be, Formichelli and Burrell bust every excuse they’ve heard from writers, as well as the excuses they’ve used themselves, by dispelling the fear behind the excuse and showing readers, with specific actionable tips from a variety of experts including authors, psychologists, and coaches, how they can move forward with their own writing goals instead of staying stuck in place.

Write It Anyway is a book for all writers, whether you write nonfiction, fiction, poetry, plays, or screenplays.

Available from Renegade Writer Press this fall in electronic and print formats.

Bobbie’s Bill of Writes

by Bobbie Christmas

When I speak to writers, at times I sense their angst. Some feel embarrassed to admit they are writers, as if being a writer were a disease best left undisclosed.

We writers must believe in ourselves, or who will believe in us? We must take pride in our work. We must demand the respect that is rightfully ours. No longer should we be reluctant to admit we are writers. An old Talmudic saying goes, “If I’m not for me, who will be?”

Some folks think they can’t call themselves writers until they sell or publish something. How can they sell or publish their work, though, until they first write it? How can they write it, without being writers? You do not need to be published or paid before you receive validation. To be a writer, you need only to write.

In my book on creative writing, titled Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, I devote one chapter to what I call my Bill of Writes for writers. If you don’t feel worthy to call yourself a writer or to demand what you need to become an accomplished writer, my Bill of Writes is for you. Continue reading

I Don’t Know Art but I Know I Like Vintage Purses How This Writer Became a Museum Curator

by Wendy Dager

The imaginary handwriting was on the virtual wall. Or more precisely, the end of days for traditional newspapers began as soon as social media became the preferred form of receiving information.

This has resulted in round after round of staff layoffs nationwide at newspapers large and small. Some freelancers, like myself, survived for a while because our services were still needed as the newsrooms emptied. We’re inexpensive labor. Corporate doesn’t have to provide us with benefits such as 401(k)s and health care. And we’re dependable. At least, I was dependable, getting steady assignments to write crime blotters, real estate stories, entertainment pieces, and “advertorials” for special sections.

Then they stopped calling. But I’m a cockroach—a colorful one with pink hair and vintage skirts—and I’ve weathered a few career nukes. I’m one of those weirdly adaptable writers who’s done a lot of different types of work. In addition to newspaper articles and advertorials, I had a biweekly opinion column for sixteen years, wrote greeting-card copy, button and keychain slogans, magazine articles, video and flash animation scripts, press releases, ad copy, corporate newsletters and blog posts, a couple of novels, and, most recently, piles of SEO copy for an online company. I’ve always said, “When one door slams shut, another might open a little, so you better wedge your foot in there while you can.”

About three years ago, I anticipated losing my main source of income—the newspaper for which I’d freelanced since 1998—so I thought about what I’d like to do instead. Sure, it still says “writer” on my tax return and I’m not going to stop writing for money as long as someone will have me, but…

It’s time for something different.

Besides working as a writer, I am a collector. I have an enormous collection of vintage clothing, jewelry, shoes, hats, and purses. Lots and lots of purses. Too many purses. As my vintage purse collection grew, I began thinking they’d make a great exhibit. In 2014 I got a certificate in Art Museum and Gallery Studies online from California State University, East Bay, with the intention of starting my own purse museum. Don’t laugh—there are three in the world: the Esse Purse Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas; the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam, Netherlands; and the Simone Handbag Museum in Seoul, South Korea. Purses are portable works of art. They can be beautiful. Breathtaking. Scenic. Silly. Whimsical. And they have an enormous fan base.

As a native Californian, I was smitten with the idea of establishing a West Coast purse museum. Lots of folks who have talent in one form of art find they can do something else with equal aplomb. For instance, there are plenty of famous actors who are accomplished painters. I figured it wouldn’t be a stretch to go from freelance writer to museum curator. I love collecting, but I also love the history of bags and get excited about researching their origins. There are, however, obstacles. Big ones. Mainly, unlike your favorite A-list actor, it’s hard for us regular folks to finance what amounts to a vanity project. I live in a suburb just outside of Los Angeles County, which you’d think would at least be geographically accommodating of a vintage purse museum. Yet, upon doing a ton of research during the museum certification process—including two museum internships and the feasibility study that was my final project—I learned it would be too expensive to establish a museum, given the high rents, building permits, insurance, and other costs. I ruled out creating a nonprofit, because besides having to make an initial substantial personal monetary investment, owning a museum’s collection while being director and/or curator of the nonprofit is a gray area. There’s a scary possibility that one could establish a nonprofit museum, donate or lend one’s collection to the museum, then be ousted by the nonprofit board.

Yep, I have looked into every angle. My husband and I even discussed moving to a less-expensive and more arts-friendly community to create a for-profit museum, but we are currently unable to leave California because of family obligations and financial reasons.

So here’s where I’m at today. The Vintage Purse Gallery, www.VintagePurseGallery.com, is my online-only vintage handbag museum. It’s free to “visit” and is obviously open 24 hours a day. I have Google ads on the main website and its various sub-websites, which earn a few cents a week. Meaning that it’s not at all profitable—especially since I keep using my own limited funds to add to the collection. Nor will it turn any sort of profit until we figure out how to make money.

In the meantime, I use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote the site and draw traffic from all over the world. We are also in the process of creating a mobile purse exhibit out of a 1961 Aristocrat Land Commander trailer. It’s a pretty cool little trailer and my husband, who is rehabbing it, is the most incredible man on Earth—talent-wise and tolerance-of-me-wise. Once it’s finished, we want to bring the mobile exhibit to local vintage car shows, “glamping” rallies, and other one-day events, in the hope that event planners will pay us to attend. But they’d have to think it’s worth it.

We’re also making purse-themed items, which we’d sell online and at these events. My ultimate goal is to turn this hobby into a career, but most art, much like most writing, is an undervalued commodity. If we were to open a brick-and-mortar and expect it to support our existence, the exhibits would need to be supplemented by a gift shop and special promotions such as fashion shows, tea parties, vintage-themed celebrations, food trucks, and so on.

This can be done, but it’s greatly dependent on timing, finances, and the will to make it happen. I definitely have the will. I’m just hoping the other two elements will eventually fall into place.


Wendy Dager is a professional freelance writer whose career has spanned nearly three decades. To read more about her work, visit www.WendyDager.com. To visit The Vintage Purse Gallery, an online handbag museum, go to www.VintagePurseGallery.com. For more about the mobile purse exhibit, The Rolling Vintage (RV) Purse Museum – Where the Handbag Meets the Highway, check out www.RVPurseMuseum.com.

ePublishing and Copyrights

by Bobbie Christmas

Q: I have a couple of questions about ebooks, as I’ve had two responses to queries from ebook publishers.

1. Should my manuscript be copyrighted before I send the whole thing to anyone?

2. If I publish the ebook version, is it okay to continue sending out queries to other publishers and agents in hopes of selling the printed version?

A: First a word of warning. Many ebook publishers are, in essence, purveyors of self-publishing. Unethical ebook publishers will show interest in a book simply to lure writers into paying for some or all of the expenses of self-publishing. Some ebook publishers will accept almost any book in almost any form and publish it as an ebook because it costs them next to nothing to put a sales button on their websites and allow people to download an electronic version you supply. If you do not receive an advance and/or if you pay the ebook publisher any fee for design or format, it’s considered self-publishing. For those reasons be careful and know what you want before you go into any agreement with an ebook publisher. For my first ebook, for example, I made sure my ebook publisher would allow me to use more than its website to sell my ebook. Continue reading

Thinking About Becoming a Freelancer? Here are Three Tips

by Sabrina Ricci, Digital Pubbing

Being a freelancer is great. You get to set your own hours, choose what to work on, and help people directly. It’s also a lot of hard work, and you have to hustle in order to get consistent work and earn a living. If you’re new to freelancing, or considering taking the leap into the freelance world, here are three tips to help you get started.

1. Celebrate your wins.

Give yourself small milestones to reach, whether that means setting up a simple website, reaching out to your first potential client, or getting your portfolio together. When you’ve accomplished your goal, give yourself a treat. Spend some time with friends, have a glass of wine, or just do a little happy dance. All these small steps will add up to big wins, and it’s important to stay positive and focused along the way. Continue reading

Short Stories, Release Forms, and Good Rejections

by Bobbie Christmas

Q: I tried writing novels, but I found I was better at writing shorter things. I wrote some short stories, but they all come out as if they are a view into a certain event or something. They don’t really have a beginning, middle, and end. Are they still considered short stories?

A: You probably are writing what is called slice-of-life stories, which can also come under the heading of short stories. It is my understanding that many markets that accept short stories also accept slice-of-life stories. Continue reading