SPAWN Market Update – September 2008

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SPAWN Market Update – September, 2008

By Patricia L. Fry

 

Going, Going, Gone18 to report.

Here’s What’s NewMeet 4 new editors, learn the new name for an old directory, and the 2009 Writer’s Market is out!

Opportunities for Freelance WritersDozens of opportunities in the Consumer and Trade Magazine markets.

Opportunities for AuthorsA dozen publishers for you to consider.

Opportunities for Children’s Book AuthorsAccess to hundreds of publishers.

Book Promotion OpportunitiesFall book festivals, informative articles galore for authors with books to promote and an opportunity for authors of etiquette books.

Opportunities for Artists5 of them.

Opportunities for Poets – 5 magazines seeking poetry.

Resources for Writers and Authors4 Recommended Blogs, Publishing for Kids, Publisher’s Lunch and WorldCat.org, a library research tool.

Bonus ItemsStop Rejection in its Tracks; When and How to Get Permission to Quote; Creativity Workshops for Writers’ Groups/Interview with Anne Davigo

 

 

Going, Going, Gone

So far, it’s just a rumor, but it’s sure a widespread one. Even TMZ says that Playgirl Magazine is on the verge of folding.

 

Bright Ring Publishing is no longer accepting submissions. They are publishing only works by MaryAnn Kohl.

 

The book review section of the Los Angeles Times is no more. But the LA Times will continue publishing book reviews, just on a smaller scale. Book reviews will appear in the calendar section and share space with other features.

 

Publishing News Limited (a UK publication) has closed after 29 years.

 

TheWritersLife.net domain is for sale.

 

Everywriter.com domain is also for sale.

 

The print version of BeE Woman has folded, but you can still enjoy the online version at: http://www.beemag.com.

 

Solutions at Home, both the Chesapeake and Baltimore editions, has gone out of business.

 

Mass Appeal will cease publication.

 

American Jewish Life is closing.

 

Future Snowboarding has gone under.

 

Los Angeles Times Magazine is quitting. It will be replaced, however, by a magazine focusing more on business than the original.

 

Quick and Simple has closed.

 

Practical Ecommerce will stop publishing the print version, but will remain online. www.practicalecommerce.com

 

Golf for Women is gone.

 

Animals’ Voice quits after only 3 years.

 

Everywhere will fold.

 

Minnesota Technology is now Enterprise Minnesota. The new editor is Tom Mason.

 

Here’s What’s New

The 2009 Writer’s Market is out! If you want to earn a living or supplement your income through article writing or if you plan to promote your book by writing articles for magazines, you’ll want to update your older edition of Writer’s Market. If you are pitching a book to publishers/agents or you will be sometime this year, you’ll want to have your own desk copy of this directory. Buy yours today at your nearest bookstore or at any number of online stores. If you’ve never used or owned Writer’s Market, let me tell you that it is an amazingly useful directory listing 3,500 publishers, agents, magazines and other opportunities where you can sell your work. To learn more about the Writer’s Market, go to http://www.writersmarket.com or check it out at your local library.

 

It occurred to me that I’ve probably owned every edition of Writer’s Market ever produced. But, alas, I’ve been purchasing this directory annually for only 35 years and this is their 88th annual edition.

 

Marcia Nelson is the new religion review editor for Publishers Weekly. If your book is religious in nature and you think that it warrants a review in Publishers Weekly, Marcia is the person to contact. I notice that they don’t have her name and contact information up at the website, yet, so watch for it to appear at http://www.publishersweekly.com.

 

Jenifer O’Neill is the new fitness editor at Self Magazine. If you are a contributor to Self or you write fitness pieces, you’ll want to note this in your newest edition of the Writer’s Market.

 

Bacon’s Media Directory (established in 1932) is now Cision Directory of Magazines. Learn more about Cision at http://www.cision.com. And look for the Directory of Magazines at your local library.

 

Entrepreneur’s new editor-in-chief is Amy C. Cosper. Charlotte Jensen is the new executive editor for the magazine.

 

Opportunities for Freelance Writers is running a contest for writers. Go to the site, look at the image and write a story about it. You’ll see the rules on the same page. There’s no entry fee, and winners will receive a standard Flashing Swords Magazine publishing contract. This magazine also accepts poetry. To read about the detailed Submission Guidelines, click here.

Flashing Swords Magazine

 

Traveling Mamas wants true humorous uplifting stories of 300 to 1,000 words for an anthology. They pay only $50, but the exposure might be worth something to you. Locate the details at http://www.travelingmamas.com/anthology. Hurry! The deadline is close. In fact, you may have to fudge a little to get in.

 

Kid Spirit Magazine is a new kid on the block for kids between the ages of 11 to 15. If you know a pre-teen or young teen, who has something to contribute and wants to be published, check out this opportunity at http://www.kidspiritmagazine.com.

 

Susan Stoltz at Women Out West Magazine is soliciting articles on travel and history as well as book reviews and poetry for publication. This quarterly magazine also publishes photography. http://www.womenoutwestmag.com/magazine/index.php?id=submissions

 

Doorways Magazine (a journal of horror and the paranormal) publishes fiction pieces of from 500 to 3,500 words. They want paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, magic realism and shock suspense pieces and they pay 5 cents word. Guidelines at: http://www.doorwayspublications.com/guidelines.htm. Contact the editor at doorwaysmag@yahoo.com.

 

Experience Success in the Trade Magazine Market

I often suggest that freelance writers and those who want to promote their books through articles, consider writing for trade magazines. The 2009 Writer’s Market has 161 pages of trade magazine listings and each of those pages has anywhere from 3 to 5 listings each. That’s a lot of them.

 

So what are trade magazines and why would you want to submit manuscripts to them? A trade magazine (or trade journal) is one related to a business, industry or occupation. Let’s say that you are an expert or have an interest in or a book related to a particular industry, such as advertising/marketing, church administration, counseling, finance, retail, management, pets, real estate or travel. You could submit articles to appropriate trade magazines on a related topic. Here are some trade magazines to consider:

 

Submit a piece of around 3,000 words on an aspect of selling or marketing to Advantages Magazine and you could earn $500 to $1,000. Submission Guidelines at http://www.advantagesinfo.com.

 

Interview an interesting artist who happens to have a good business sense and you might earn $900 from HOW with an appropriate article. http://www.howdesign.com

 

Maybe you know something about erosion or live in an area where there’s a problem area with erosion. Sell Janice Kaspersen at Erosion Control Magazine on your idea and you might earn $850.

 

If your book features management techniques, you could conceivably sell several trade journals of different types on an excerpt from your book or an article. Submit your idea for an article on some aspect of management to Operations and Fulfillment and earn $1,500, for example. Human Resource Executive would pay up to $1,000 for an 1,800-word piece. Practical Welding Today pays around $900 for a 1,200-word article. Expansion Management Magazine buys 120 manuscripts and pays as much as $400 per piece.

 

You’ll find all of these magazines listed in the 2009 edition of Writer’s Market. Or, of course, you can do a Google search to locate those in which you’re interested.

 

Just to further encourage you to reach out to trade magazines or other magazines that are seemingly unrelated to your general topic, here are some examples from my own files:

Massage Magazine published my piece on how to build your business by writing articles. Disciples World published my article, “The Write Way to Strengthen Your Faith.” I sold a piece on youth mentoring to Catholic Digest Magazine. The Executive Update published my article on how to experience an Inner Vacation. I sold an excerpt from my Hawaiian luau book to Prime Time. Family Motor Coaching was just one publication that accepted a piece on scrapbooking. And HOW Magazine purchased my article on how to organize your home office. I’ve sold parenting articles to horse and cat magazines, articles about cats to regional and metaphysical magazines and articles about writing to a wide variety of magazines, such as retirement, children’s, associations, religious, women’s and teens.

 

Those of you who faithfully read the SPAWN Market Update, know that I introduce trade magazines on occasion. So you may find additional listings in our archives. Also, it has just come to my attention that there are 3 sites listing trade magazines, http://www.freebizmag.com (fill out a form using the info you are searching for and they will provide you with a list.), at http://www.tradepub.com you can search by industry, and go to http://www.freetradepubs.com and type in your search info and you’ll receive listings. Sometimes it will still be necessary to search for the contact info and website, but this is a good way to get a list of appropriate magazines started.

 

Opportunities for Authors

According to Matthew Shaer and Teresa Mendez, in an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 9, 2008, memoirs are still popular. In fact, Bowker reports that sales have doubled in the memoir category in the last 9 years. http://www.csmonitor.com

 

Memoirs Ink sponsors a monthly mini-memoir contest. Each month winners receive $100 or a choice of merchandise. If you are working on a memoir to be published in book form or you have a personal story (memoir) you’d like to share, study the submission details at http://www.memoirsink.com.

 

Doorways Publications is looking for novellas of from 15,000 to 20,000 words in the horror, fantasy or experimental categories. If you wonder what type of books they produce, study Thomas Ligotti, Joe Lansdale, James Ellroy, Peter Straub and William Styron, as well as Gary Braunbaeck, Norman Partridge, Stephen King and Sara Langan. Doorways will pay $200 plus 5 free copies for your appropriate novella. Learn more at http://www.doorwayspublications.com/guidelines.htm. Contact the editor at doorwaysnovellas@yahoo.com.

 

A Christian publisher is seeking new authors. Anomalos Publishing House produces books in several categories including religion, inspiration, politics, history, mystery, conspiracy—both fiction and nonfiction. This company bills itself as having a “partnering program” meaning the author pays to have his/her book published. As you would with any publisher or anyone else who charges for services, approach this company with open eyes and mind. http://www.anomalospublishing.com

 

Occasionally, I meet writers who want to produce comic strips or graphic novels. If this describes you, here’s a publisher you’ll want to contact. Leucrota Press was established just last year with the graphic novel in mind. They publish comic books, fantasy, horror, science fiction and anthologies. They recommend that, if you’re interested, visit their website. http://www.leucrotapress.com. Contact Casey Ishitani at submissions@leucrotapress.com.

 

Have you ever done a search of publishing houses that publish books by first-time authors? I checked on a few publishers this month and this is what I learned.

 

The percentage of first time authors published by Croce Publishing is a whopping 50 percent. Croce, a 6-year-old company, publishes a dozen titles per year. They pay royalties of up to 15 percent or make an outright purchase of up to $2,500. What do they publish? General nonfiction: reference, self-help and how-to in the area of business, parenting, computers, foods, education, health, regional, travel and writing, to name only a few. Contact Nicholas Croce at submissions@crocepublishing.com or info@crocepublishing.com. But first, check their website to see what they’ve already published. http://www.crocepublishing.com

 

Have you heard of Sweetgum Press? Established in 2001, this small press produces memoirs, creative nonfiction and history (in their nonfiction line). And they also publish mainstream and experimental fiction. And 100 percent of their titles are from first-time authors. To learn more, send an email to R.M. Kinder at rmkinder@sprintmail.com. Visit their website: http://www.sweetgumpress.com.

 

Ooligan Press is also open to submissions in many categories both fiction and nonfiction. In business now for only about 7 years, 90 percent of their books are by first-time authors. Learn more at http://www.ooliganpress.pdx.edu. Email the publisher at ooligan@pdx.edu if you have a children’s book, cookbook, reference or general nonfiction book on religion, spirituality, travel, women’s studies, cooking, art or gay/lesbian issues, for example. They also publish fiction in the following categories: adventure, ethnic, fantasy, historical, humor, science fiction, mystery, poetry and much more.

 

Have you ever wondered about the competition for your manuscript when you send it to various publishers? Well, it varies. Publishers of a wide variety of general titles might deal with as many as 1,500 queries per year and 700 manuscripts and publish just 4-6 titles per year. H. J. Kramer, for example, publishes 5-7 titles per year and they receive up to 1,000 queries and 500 manuscripts. Their titles are more specialized—as they produce mainly holistic health, metaphysical books and limited fiction topics. hjkramer@jps.net.

 

Jeremy P. Tarcher receives 1,000 queries and as many manuscripts each year and they produce about 40-50 titles in the area of self-help, spirituality, health, nature, philosophy and eastern religions. http://www.penguin.com

 

Front Street publishes 10 to 15 titles/year and they receive 2,000 queries and 5,000 manuscripts. What do they produce? Children’s books, humor, illustrated books, poetry and various fiction topics. http://www.frontstreetbooks.com

 

Check it out—even a publisher that focuses receives an over-abundance of submissions: Love Spell produces romance novels and they receive 1,500 to 2,000 queries each year and 150-500 manuscripts. They produce 48 titles/year. http://www.dorchesterpub.com

 

Now, if you have a really tightly focused book idea, your chances of being published are even greater. Stoneydale Press receives only 40 or 50 query letters every year and 6 to 8 manuscripts. But they only publish books related to game hunting and outdoor recreation in the Rocky Mountains. http://www.stoneydale.com

 

Opportunities for Children’s Book Authors has added two new imprints and they plan to expand their presence in the children’s market. If you have a young adult manuscript aimed at an African American audience, consider submitting it to Dafina Books. The imprint to consider if you have a general young adult fiction manuscript is Marimba Books. Marimba will be accepting submissions starting this month. Selena James is Executive Editor for Dafina. Contact her at sjames@kensingtonbooks.com. Their Submission Guidelines do not yet mention the new Marimba line. If you are interested, use the email address above and ask for a copy of the Guidelines for Marimba. http://www.kensingtonbooks.com

Kensington Publishing

 

Journey Stone Creations is a 4-year-old publishing house focusing on children’s and juvenile nonfiction books as well as juvenile and young teen fiction. Contact Patricia Stirnkorb at info@jscbooks.com. Visit their website at www.jscbooks.com.

 

Here’s a huge online directory of children’s book publishers. Go there and locate the right publisher for your children’s book project. http://www.signaleader.com.

 

Here’s another site designed for authors of children’s book. This particular page has about 400 publishers of children’s books. Talk about a goldmine!! http://www.childrenslit.com/childrenslit/sites_publish.html

 

Book Promotion Opportunities

If you are the author of a memoir, you might consider submitting excerpts to a new magazine called, Memoir (and). Editor Candida Lawrence wants all variety of memoirs and biographies, including narrative poetry and graphic memoirs. While they do not pay, for an entry fee of $10, they will judge your story against other entrants. The winner each quarter will have his/her story published in the magazine and will receive $500. You do not have to pay an entry fee in order to simply submit your work to the magazine. Learn more about this publication at http://www.memoirjournal.com.

 

The folks at Glass Road Public Relations are billing themselves as the only publicity firm in the United States that is dedicated solely to representing works of entertainment created from a Christian perspective. http://www.glassroadpr.com

 

Here’s one for Arizona residents. The Arizona Book/Humanities Festival, originally planned for the spring of 2009, has been cancelled. For those who still want to participate in a book festival as a venue to promote your books, the Northern Arizona Book Festival is planned for late April 2009 in Flagstaff. For information about the Northern Arizona Book Festival, email John Jay at James.jay@nau.edu.

 

There is also a new book festival being planned for Tucson in 2009. Contact Frank Farias at the University of Arizona Bookstore or ffarias@email.arizona.edu.

 

Events will be spread throughout Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland this fall. They’re calling it Fall for the Book and it will be happening from September 21 through 26 this year. http://www.fallforthebook.org

 

Don’t forget to sign up for space in the SPAWN booth at the Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival. SPAWN has reserved a large booth area under a canopy of oaks. Come join us for this September 27, 2008 event. Sign up at https://www.spawn.org/form_SBBF. For additional information, read this month’s edition of SPAWNews.

 

Brian Jud has gone into the business of scouting for bulk sales opportunities for authors. If you have a book on etiquette, contact Jud immediately at brianjud@comcast.net.

 

Have you checked out the articles posted at the SPAWN website? Many of the 200+ articles posted are about book marketing. You’ll find others focusing on web issues and resources, editing, self-publishing and writing. http://www.spawn.org/articles.htm. And be sure to revisit the SPAWNews and SPAWN Market Update archives often.

 

Opportunities for Artists is in the market for high quality cover art featuring heroic characters. They also need story illustrations. Learn more about their Submission Guidelines at http://flashingswords.sfreader.com/artistguidelines.asp.

Flashing Swords

 

JPG Magazine accepts art and photography. If your photo is accepted for publication, you might earn yourself $100 and a subscription to the magazine. http://www.jpgmag.com

 

August House seeks submissions of artwork for their books. Visit their website to see what type of art they use. Then, send samples from your portfolio by mail only to: Attention Art Director, August House, 3500 Piedmont Road NE, Ste. 310, Atlanta, GA 30305. No email submissions, please. Send duplicates/copies only. No originals. http://www.augusthouse.com

 

Women Out West Magazine uses photography related to the theme of their magazine—history and travel for women. Check out their guidelines at http://womenoutwestmag.com/magazine/index.php?id=submissions.

 

Whispers From the Heart Poetry Club runs a monthly Photography Competition. Photographs must arrive in the Whispers From the Heart office by the 21st of each month in order to qualify for inclusion in the contest for that month. Rules and qualifications are here: http://www.whisperpoetry.com/index.php/Competition-&-Rules.html.

 

Opportunities for Poets accepts poetry submissions. And they’re a paying market. If you write swashbuckling adventure poetry, poetry related to historical adventure, sword and sorcery stuff and high fantasy, you may find a place in this publication for your poetry. They pay anywhere from $5 to $15 per poem of from 1 to 31 lines. Read the detailed Submission Guidelines at http://flashingswords.sfreader.com/subopenguidelines.asp.

Flashing Swords Magazine

 

West Branch pays up to $100 for free verse poems. They purchase 30 to 40/year. http://www.bucknell.edu/westbranch. Contact Paula Closson Buck at westbranch@bucknell.edu.

 

Image pays up to $150 for poems. You can submit 5 at a time. Learn more about the type of poetry they publish at http://www.imagejournal.org. Or contact Mary Kenagy at image@imagejournal.org.

 

Field: Contemporary Poetry & Poetics, a publication of Oberlin College Press, publishes 100 poems/year. And, unlike many literary magazines, they accept submissions all year round. Contact Linda Clocum, oc.press@oberlin.edu. http://www.oberlin.edu/ocpress

 

Open Spaces publishes poetry of just about any type. Contact Susan Juve-Hu Bucharest at info@open-spaces.com. http://www.open-spaces.com

 

Resources for Writers and Authors

Recommended blog sites for writers and authors:

Carol Denbow’s blog: A Book Inside. http://www.abookinside.blogspot.com

Patricia Fry’s Writing and Publishing Blog. http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog

Grammar Girl: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/default.aspx

You Don’t Say: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/

 

WorldCat, at http://www.worldcat.org, is a neat book locater site. Type in a book title and the site generates a list of all U.S. libraries (including university libraries) that carry one or more copies of that book. It’s a great tool for research purposes and what fun it is to check the location of your own published books. I discovered that my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book is in 18 libraries around the country. And my local history book, The Ojai Valley, An Illustrated History, is in 87 libraries, including Yale and Harvard. You can also search for DVDs and articles.

 

Publishing for Kids. Here’s a site for kids who love to write. Children under 13 can write, illustrate and share their stories at this site. They can also create their own books. It will take further investigation on the parents’ or teacher’s part, but it looks as though kids can play around on this site and create books for free. If they want a print copy of their books, the folks at Tikatok.com will do this service for a fee. http://www.tikatok.com

 

Do you ever visit Publishers Lunch? You might want to do so at http://www.publishersmarketplace.com. Here’s a little something I discovered there: A recent statistic indicates that the most common reason why people will buy a book is on a friend or family member’s recommendation. That’s right, 60 percent of books sold are on recommendation. The next greatest percentage driving book sales is the book review. Around 49 percent of shoppers interviewed said they bought books based on book reviews.

 

Bonus Items

Stop Rejection in its Tracks

Jeff Rivera, author of Forever My Lady (Warner/Grand Central) did the research and http://www.fullcirclelit.blogspot.com published his article called “What Book Editors Really Want,” July 24, 2008.

 

For this article, Jeff interviewed 20 editors, publishers and agents to find out what publishers want and what they wish aspiring authors would send them. His laundry list looks quite similar to those I compile for my teaching, writing and lecturing work. Here’s a sampling, in no particular order:

 

  1. They want something truly fresh. Avoid clichés like the plague. (Yes, that’s an example of a cliché.) Evidently, everyone is looking for that something new that will engage the reader’s mind and heart.
  2. Publishers will choose one author over others with comparable works based on his platform (his following, level of notoriety or fan base). Stephanie Chandler says in a recent interview that “platform is essential for publishing nonfiction and helpful for writers of fiction.” While you aren’t always required to come to a publisher with a platform, your chance of getting published will increase if you do. I tell my clients, students, audiences and SPAWN members, “Publishers want authors who can sell books.”
  3. Publishers want, as Rivera says, “proof of a book’s salability.” Build a marketing hook into your book, offer to fund your own book tour or hire a publicist and you’ve just managed to move your manuscript up in the slush pile.
  4. Choose a genre that is selling. Currently, it is young adult books, nonfiction books on popular topics and most women’s fiction.

 

So what is turning publishers and acquisitions editors off? According to those Rivera spoke with, it is the following:

 

  • Generic cover and query letters. Get the name of the editor and use it.
  • Forced familiarity. Be professional.
  • Unnecessarily long queries.
  • Difficult to read manuscripts (single-spaced, colored paper, etc.).

 

Book Stats for 2007 Out

Bowker has announced that short-run and on-demand titles, in 2007 rose in number by 5 times what it was the previous year.

 

Watch Out Who You Quote

Are you thinking about quoting song lyrics or using a song title in your book? Believe it or not, some copyright owners don’t want you to do it. Here’s an interesting story about how the Grateful Dead came back from the dead to block any spreading or sharing of their creative works. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080813/0422491964.shtml

 

Permission

I’m frequently asked when an author or freelance writer needs permission to quote someone. And I usually respond by saying, “Every time, all the time.” Don’t take chances. If you’re going to use something that someone else said, wrote or sang, protect yourself and your assets by getting written permission to use the material in your article or book.

 

But can’t you get away with publishing brief passages from copyrighted material? According to most sources, yes. But how do you (and the courts) define brief? Some say that you don’t need permission to quote a line or two. Others suggest that you’re okay as long as you don’t use over 100 words.

 

In the case of a published book, the publisher might be more than happy to grant you permission to use a paragraph, a chart or an illustration, for example, for a fee. I’ve never had to pay more than $100 for one-time use—generally one print run.

 

But here’s a newsflash. Facts cannot be copyrighted, nor can ideas. That’s why it’s okay to conduct research—gather facts and data—and then write on this topic in your own words. It’s a wise author, however, who credits his sources in a bibliography, footnotes or in some other manner.

 

You may also need permission to quote persons and documents that are not formally copyrighted. Use common sense and always check with an intellectual property attorney to be sure. As an example of non-copyrighted material, perhaps you interviewed someone for another purpose and you decide you want to use her quote in your book. You will, most likely, need permission. Let’s say that you want to quote something from an email a colleague sent you. You will, most likely, need permission.

 

Don’t waste precious time. As soon as you know that you are going to use certain material or quotes in your book or article, start the process of obtaining permissions. It can sometimes be a long, dreary process involving chasing down the copyright owner, waiting for them to respond and coming to an amicable agreement.

 

Always get written permission. I typically type the material exactly as I plan to use it and I send it along with a permission form for the individual to sign and date.

 

Once you get permission, do not change the quote. Publish it exactly as it was given to you.

 

Always send a copy of the article to those who participated. As for a book, I send copies to those who gave me a fair amount of material for my project.

 

Interview with Anne Davigo
Creativity Workshops for Writers’ Groups

 

Q: I understand that you have a unique writers group. Where are you, how many in the group and what makes the group unique?

 

A: The Monday Night Writers Group currently has eight members and meets face-to-face weekly over coffee in Sacramento, California. The group, with some of the original members, has been going since 1993. Most often we meet in an informal restaurant or coffee shop, but for a few years we met at my home. The group is unique in that we are not a critique group, which is primarily a left-brain problem-solving activity, but a group that writes together from prompts. We find that the two 20-minute writings we do each evening stimulate that right-brain creative impulse that provides the joy and inspiration we all find in writing.

 

Q: You and your writers group also give workshops to help other groups learn how to jump-start their members’ creativity. Tell me about this concept.

 

A: Many writers follow Natalie Goldberg’s advice on writing to a prompt non-stop for 10 or 20 minutes. We use this concept in our workshops by having all the participants write from the same prompt for 20 minutes. We have found, after doing numerous of these workshops, that participants, even those who are beginning writers, produce amazing pieces in those 20 minutes. Recent research on the phenomenon of human insight finds that the brain needs to be relaxed for insight to occur. I think that there is something about the non-stop movement of the fingers, whether it is with a pencil or on the computer keys, that allows the brain to relax and creativity to flow.

 

Q: Do you travel and meet with other writers groups or do you give online workshops? How does this work?

 

A: We have given our workshops to evening education students, at a seminar-at-sea cruise and at local libraries. The workshops encourage writers to get going and keep going on their writing by forming a writers group. We show participants how to do this by writing twice for 20 minutes each and then reading what they’ve written to the group. We ask writers to comment on what is memorable about the work they have heard. This builds trust among members that others in the group are there to celebrate their creativity and encourage them. In listening to others, members learn ways that they might add to or deepen their own work. For example they might add more sensory detail or dig more deeply into the emotions of their characters. At the end of the workshop, we invite participants to exchange names with others and set up a time to meet.

 

Q: Can you provide a couple of anecdotes reflecting how this technique has worked for specific writers?

 

A: I am nearly finished with a novel that began with a 20-minute prompt I wrote four years ago. Barbara Link, one of our long-time members, won a literary prize for a short story that had its origins in our group. And a former member used a series of pieces from the group as the core of a story collection for her master’s degree in creative writing.

 

Q: You said that this technique helps writers to overcome writer’s block. Can you give us an example or two or explain how this is so?

 

A: One recent Monday I had been working on my book all day. My sex scene was so dull, if I’d been in it myself I’d have fallen asleep. The prompt that night was “toast.” I started writing the scene and incorporated the word “toast” in it. The more I wrote, the more fun I had, and suddenly my characters started romping around in bed. Another of our members, Virginia Kidd, finds that the process helps her shed the confining strictures the academic writing she does on her job and frees her up to plunge into her mystery novel.

 

Q: What are some of the added benefits of working together in a group using this technique?

 

A: We get infected with each other’s enthusiasm. When we listen to someone who is using the same prompt really “nail it,” we catch the inspiration in the air. In our next prompt we may try something new, draw more fully on our own experience, take an artistic chance.

 

Q: How long is your workshop? What do you charge?

 

A: Our workshops usually last three hours. We don’t charge. We just want people to get started writing.

 

Q: Do you work with individuals as well as groups?

 

A: We’ve never worked with individuals, mainly because we’re advocates for writers groups. The Monday Night Writers Group recently wrote Coffee and Ink: How a Writers Group Can Nourish Your Creativity. You can find out more about the book at www.coffeeandink.net.

 

Q: What would you advise someone who would like to help his/her group members to bring out their individual creativity?

 

A: We have a list of 10 tips for a successful writers group on our web site. The two top ones: Meet regularly and, when you meet, write.

 

Q: How can writers find out more about your workshop?

 

A: Go to our web site and use the Contact Us feature. I’d be happy to answer any questions.

 

Anne Davigo
adavigo@earthlink.net
http://www.coffeeandink.net

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