SPAWNews Newsletter – January 2013


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From the President

Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!

The other night I woke up from a dream where I had said, "what if you thought about solutions instead of excuses?" In the dream, I’m not sure exactly who I was saying this to or why, but the idea stuck with me for the rest of the day because it rang true.

Many people devote a tremendous amount of energy looking for reasons they can’t do something they claim to want, such as writing a book. But what if you put that energy into looking for solutions instead? Solutions to almost every problem exist; it’s up to you to take advantage of them. This issue of SPAWNews is a great example. It’s full of great time management solutions that can help you realize your creative dreams in 2013. So instead of thinking about what’s stopping you, think about what you can do to make your dreams come true.

Susan Daffron (
President & Webmaster, Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN)
President, Logical Expressions, Inc.

Editor’s Note

This issue is about time management. How do you fit writing, art, and other creative works into a day crammed with laundry, car pools, after-school activities, meals, shopping, and more? Getting up an hour early seems to be a popular suggestion, but would you really have enough fully awake brain cells to write a coherent sentence?

Barbara Florio-Graham has a list of good suggestions in her article (below). Joanne Celeste reviews a book that helped her and tells how she implemented change into her schedule. Cheryl Derricotte, the 30-Minute Manager, shows how you can make positive changes in just 30 minutes a day.

Now that the rush of the holidays is over, take a deep breath, have a last glass of egg nog, and decide how to plan your time for the coming year so that you time is a top priority.

Next month the newsletter topic will be getting organized—how to set up a writing space that doesn’t have to move when it’s time for the next meal and finding a place to paint without spending more time setting up/putting away than painting. Tips and suggestions welcome.

If part of your New Year’s resolution is to write more often or to promote your work, consider writing for SPAWNews. Articles are usually 400-500 words. The newsletter is sent to about 2,000 people, so it’s good exposure. E-mail me if you’re interested.

The 2013 editorial calendar so far: February—getting organized, March—book shepherds, April—anthologies, May—plotting, June—magazine markets. Got ideas for the rest of the year? E-mail me!

Happy New Year—and best wishes for a prosperous 2013,

 — Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

Join SPAWN at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (LATFB) is billed as the nation’s largest public literary festival, attracting around 140,000 people last year.

It wasn’t always this big, and some of us here at SPAWN remember its beginnings. The LATFB launched in 1996, the same year that SPAWN did. SPAWN has had a presence at this now-gigantic event almost every year since.

The LATFB will be held at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles again this year on April 20 and 21, 2013. SPAWN has secured two booths to accommodate our members. The fee for selling your books from our booth is $203 per day. (Three titles per member, only.)

We are also offering those who can’t attend the LATFB the opportunity to display a copy of their book(s) in the SPAWN booth for $20 each title. For an additional $37, members can list their books in the SPAWN Catalog of Member’s Books and Services, which will serve as the brochure for all participants. Everyone visiting the SPAWN booth will walk away with one of our beautiful full-color print catalogs. The absolute deadline for having your book included in the SPAWN Catalog of Member’s Books and Services is February 15, 2013.  (Yes, it’s a short deadline this year. So don’t procrastinate.)

Visit to read about all of your options, and to sign up.

The LATFB opportunity is open to members only. If your SPAWN membership has expired or you haven’t joined yet, this is a good time to take care of business. If you want a major bookselling opportunity and incredible exposure for your book, sign up to join us in the SPAWN booth—first come, first served. Learn more about the LATFB here:     


SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

We hope to help you enjoy a very happy and prosperous 2013 by providing nearly 50 opportunities for authors and freelance writers in this issue of the SPAWN Market Update. Discover which publishers are currently seeking manuscripts, which of them accept unsolicited manuscripts, where you can promote your book through articles, and some viable submission opportunities for freelance writers of fiction. We provide links to six new book reviewers, five book-sales trackers, and 13 book-promotion resources and ideas. All of this and industry news. Happy New Year.

Join this month by going to and click on Join/Renew.

Ask the Book Doctor:

About A versus The, Semicolons in Dialogue, Clichés, and Capitalization

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I know to use “an” instead of “a” with a word beginning with a vowel, but is there a good rule about using “a” or “an” instead of “the” when referring to an item?

Example: Glowering from under the/a plastic-covered park ranger hat covering his red hair, Larry lashes out with . . .

A: Although to my knowledge no hard rule governs the writer’s choice, the creative guideline is this: if an item has significance to the story, or if the writer wants to refer to a specific item, rather than any item like that one, use “the.” When speaking in generalities, however, use “a.” In the case of the example, use “the” if the hat has some significance to the story—if such a hat was mentioned earlier in the story, for example, because the person who committed the plot-related murder wore such a hat—then use “the.” If the hat is like any other hat that park rangers wear and it carries no significance on its own, use “a.”

Q: Should semicolons be used in dialogue?

A: When appropriate, semicolons can appear in dialogue, but semicolons lead to long sentences. Long sentences block the natural back-and-forth element of good dialogue. Semicolons may have a place in speeches, toasts, or lectures; however, I advise against using semicolons if you want to write good conversational dialogue.

Q: I know what the word “cliché” means, but sometimes trying to identify one is not so “cut-and-dried” for me. Which of these six would you say are clichés, if not all of them?

1. His eyes were as wide as the moon.

2. The look from him chilled her bones.

3. As for Dorothy, her wounds would never really heal.

4. It was like a war zone.

5. Not exactly Mr. Sensitive, is he?

6. The officer gave him a cold stare.

A: A cliché can be any frequently used phrase, such as these: scared to death, jumped for joy, mad as the dickens, happy as a clam, and clear as mud. Clichés also include oft-used word combinations such as these: simple fact; shiver (sob, cry) uncontrollably; brink of disaster; I, for one; mind’s eye; stunned silence; and the bottom line.

As you apparently suspect, things that cannot appear in reality often are clichés. For example, eyes cannot in actuality be as wide as a moon; a look cannot make bones chilled; most real wounds do heal, if we stay alive long enough; and a stare has no temperature, so it cannot be cold, in reality. Despite that information, readers do get the picture (another cliché) through well-used terminology, another term for a cliché.

As for the other statements, I’ll say it again: if you’ve heard it before, it’s a cliché. For example, after almost every fire or natural disaster, some commentator will say the area looked like a war zone. Yawn. It’s been said. If you want to write creatively, create something new.

Clichés in dialogue are acceptable in moderation, because people do speak in worn-out phrases. Writers should not lean on clichés in narrative, however.

Q: Why is Mom capitalized in “I love you, Mom”?

A: Mom is capitalized in that case because it replaces a name and because it has no article (a, an, or the) or other modifier (such as his, her, my) in front of it. Correct: “I love you, Mom.” Incorrect: “I love my Mom.”

Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too.  Send them to Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at

Book Review

by Patricia Fry

Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release that Announces Your Book by Sandra Beckwith, Copyright 2012   E-book—50 pages  $9.00

Sandra Beckwith is a veteran publicist and book-marketing coach. So why wouldn’t every author pay close attention to her book on how to write the all-important press release?

All authors send press releases announcing their new books. If they don’t, they should. And in only 50 pages, this e-book gives you everything you need to nail your next press release. Sure, you’ve seen articles and chapters in books on the subject of press releases—mine, included. But this one focuses entirely on the successful press release, from why write one and its purpose to how to write one, how to use it and even what to do after you send it.

I especially like Beckwith’s section showing step-by-step instructions for preparing a press release, which are presented in easy-to-follow bold and colorful boxes and her Common Press Release Mistakes.

Have you ever seen a form to help you write a press release? Beckwith provides one. She also gives you several sample press releases for announcing both fiction and nonfiction books. And for those of you who don’t want to send press releases out yourself or who want a little help doing so, she lists several press-release distribution centers you can use.

If the thought of writing a press release fills you with fear, you really need Beckwith’s new book Get Your Book in the News. I’ve been sending out press releases for many, many years and I learned a lot from this book. You will, too.

Be sure to read Sandra’s member news item—how her two-story-tall photo ended up in Times Square!

The FOUR Ps of Time Management

by Barbara Florio Graham

Feeling overwhelmed? Often we take on “just one more thing” without realizing that we’re already stretched beyond our bounds. Some people actually don’t achieve many of their most important goals, even though they seem to be working long hours.

I mentored a woman who had a successful business, bringing in a six-figure income while juggling four kids. She came to me with what seemed like an impossible request. She wanted to write her first book, but couldn’t figure out how to carve out the time.

I asked her to list everything she did each week, which included many chores involving the family (her husband did shift work and traveled more than an hour each way to get to his job). Her business included writing and producing a newsletter, teaching at a community college, writing articles for a variety of publications, and doing some contract writing work for a corporate client.

We then created a sheet with four columns. In the first one, we listed these jobs; in the second column we created an estimate of how much time she spent on each every week; then the financial return on these efforts; and in the fourth column our decision about each item. When we were able to eliminate the newsletter, which produced no revenue, and sub-contract the college course to another writer, we were able to free up about half a day a week.

Then I suggested she find a stay-at-home mother who wanted some part-time work, and hire her to do some of the mundane things like errands, filing, folding laundry, and watching my client’s kids while she was at the house.

That freed up one full day a week my client could devote to writing and marketing her first book. She now has 29 books in print, several of them best-sellers, and employs a personal assistant three days a week.

Here’s what you need to do:


  • Each day, week, month
  • Be realistic about how much you can accomplish.
  • Set goals – at least annual, better semi-annual or quarterly
  • Slot in regular responsibilities, including holidays when you expect to be entertaining, vacations and family visits, business trips
  • Schedule regular deadlines.
  • Fit volunteer jobs into schedule as well
  • If you don’t have enough time left to include marketing, you’re going to have to cut back somewhere else.


  • Do the major and most difficult tasks first.
  • Schedule these at times you are most productive and least likely to be interrupted.
  • Strictly limit the time you spend on social media.
  • Don’t overestimate the impact of your blog. Many blogs have few readers, eat up a great deal of time, and don’t produce any real revenue. 


  • Decide what tasks are really necessary. Combine shopping trips, and don’t plan coffee or lunch with friends when you’re really busy with work.
  • Consider hiring someone to handle the $10-15/hour jobs:
    • cleaning
    • errands
    • filing
    • large mailings
    • proofreading

If you think you can’t afford this, consider what you spend on fast food when you’re too busy to cook, or what work you have to turn down because you don’t have time to take it on.


  • It’s often more cost-effective to hire:
    • a bookkeeper/accountant
    • an editor/proofreader
    • a computer trainer or computer help than to spend the time to do this yourself (including the learning curve)
  • Plan your time with a chart/spreadsheet) listing such things as:
    • Market Research
    • Queries and/or book proposals
    • Research/revision; writing
    • Social media, including your website and blog
    • Filing, computer back-ups
    • E-mail. You don’t have to answer everyone, or comment on everything sent to you. Jokes, cartoons, YouTube videos, and links to articles can eat up a lot of time. Put these in a separate folder to look at later, limit the time you spend on them, and don’t feel you need to acknowledge them. You may want to unsubscribe from newsletters that eat into your work day, and ask friends and family not to send you jokes, cartoons, and videos.

Barbara Florio Graham is an author and publishing consultant. Her website contains a great deal of free information as well as Simon Teakettle’s popular blog.

Becoming a Productive Writer

by Joanna Celeste

I recently read The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen and it gave me a new attitude toward my writing. The book is organized into short chapters, with summaries of the points covered on each chapter page. It’s easy to read and is set up to make the journey toward productivity fun and flexible. My interest was time management. I belong to multiple groups and social media platforms, have three books to review, and my novel is banging down my door, while I have a day job and it’s the holidays. I was figuratively drowning in my to-do list.

I put several chapters of The Productive Writer to the test: the first four helped me define what it is I actually want/need to be doing so I can streamline. I want to build my platform. The best way for me to do that is to continue reviewing books while networking via my groups/social media. Learning aromatherapy can wait for now. Joining a group that reads to kids each Saturday can also go on hold.

The chapters “Re-inventing Your Relationship with Time,” “Scheduling Time and Tasks,” and “Writing in the Margins of a Full-Time Life” helped me define my priorities. The holidays and end-of-the-year projects have a set deadline. The book reviews are promised by certain days. Work projects take precedence because they need to be done in harmony with many team members. Everything else is on a deadline only in my head. I can arrange my projects accordingly, to save my sanity.

The Productive Writer also shares a new take on the right time to say “Yes” as well as when it’s best to politely decline.

In terms of organizing resources, I created an Excel table with a worksheet of social-media platforms, a sheet for various groups, and sheets for ongoing projects with writing, work, the household and personal commitments. I’m armed with several templates from the book to personalize a productivity plan, navigate multiple obligations, and make way for future opportunities.

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese proverb quoted in book.

Resources from The Productive Writer: Platform-at-a-glance worksheet, daily time log, weekly schedule template, social-media game plan, at author’s site: 

Joanna Celeste is an author, journalist and budding book marketer. Her book reviews and author interviews are posted on her website, along with resources for building frugal platforms in social media and in real life.

Ten Great Ways to Use 30 Minutes a Day in 2013

by Cheryl Patrice Derricotte

Half an hour can change your life. One of the best time-management tools you can try in 2013 is to set aside 30 minutes a day to advance your writing career, your personal well-being, or both.  This article will offer ten great ways to spend 30 minutes a day.

  • Exercise. A 30-minute walk or run is a great way to clear your head for writing. 
  • Meditate. Quieting your mind for 30 minutes can help you organize your thoughts when you return to the pen or the computer.
  • Post. Add some new content to your personal and business sites on Facebook. Like and comment on posts by others. Make three new friends.
  • Tweet. Go on Twitter, say something short and sassy. Catch up on other tweets and what’s trending. Then spend the remainder of your 30 Twitter minutes writing a set of tweets you can automate to send once a day over the next week or so, depending on how many you write.
  • Blog. Take 30 minutes to write a short blog on a topic that caught your attention on the news or has been on your mind. Blog about a place you went recently. Thirty minutes is plenty of time to write something short, fun, and engaging.
  • Read. Go back to the article you wanted to “read later” and read it. Start reading the first couple of chapters of a new book.
  • Outline. Sit down at the desk and write out the ideas for your next article or book project.
  • Manage. Go over your expenses for the month and make sure you have captured everything you can write off on your taxes. File key receipts in a central location to make tax time easier.
  • Pin. Add some images to your Pinterest board. See what others have been pinning.
  • Plan. Take 30 minutes to plan your goals for 2013 and beyond. Review your business plan and make sure it still reflects your writing and publishing goals. Don’t have a business plan?  Grab a copy of the book One Page Business Plan or One Page Business Plan for Women to get started.

I hope you enjoyed this list of strategies to spend 30 minutes productively.  Wishing you a prosperous and healthy New Year!

Cheryl Patrice Derricotte is the Chief Information Officer for 30 Minute Manager, LLC, an indie publishing company she founded in January 2011. Her first book, Being the Grown-Up: Taking Care of Someone With a Terminal Illness will be available in Spring 2013. For more information “Like” her LLC at and follow her on Twitter

Member News

SPAWN President, Susan Daffron’s publishing company Logical Expressions, Inc. has released the first three books in the new "57 Secrets" book series ( The titles are 57 Secrets for Working Smarter in Photoshop by Helen Bradley, 57 Secrets for Writing a Nonfiction Book by Susan Daffron, 57 Secrets for Branding Yourself Online by Carma Spence. The books are all available on and other online booksellers. (Kindle and EPUB versions will be released soon.)


Sandra Beckwith’s book marketing expertise was recently recognized with a special display in Times Square, New York City. ProfNet, a unit of PRNewswire that publishes a newsletter to help journalists find sources, asked Beckwith to do a December 4 Twitter chat on book marketing. The company promoted the event with a sign on the Reuters Building in Times Square that featured a two-story head shot of Beckwith. To see the image and learn more, please visit her blog at


Victory Crane recently published Reluctant Spy, a novel of espionage, science fiction, and murder mystery. You can read the first five chapters for free at Victory’s website at Synopsis: Jake Dani is a private eye on the newly colonized planet of Rossa, hired by the planet’s prime minister to clear his son of the murder of the first lady. When Jake agrees reluctantly to help his best friend Ron on a spy mission, Jake uncovers the genocide of the napes, a native sentient species, by a powerful pharma company. But if Jake stops the genocide, he puts his own daughter at risk of dying from a deadly brain disease. Then Jake learns that his estranged father is on Rossa as a spy—and is missing. (If you like the novel, Victory would appreciate your review on Amazon!)


Simon Teakettle III (Terzo), the cat who owns the company that Spawn member Barbara Florio Graham works for, is garnering lots of press. This is the third year he has had his own calendar and his very first video is getting attention from key bloggers and media. The video shows him performing various behaviors described by Bobbi in an article by Janice Biniok, published in the December issue of Cat Fancy. Bobbi is also quoted in an article in the January issue of Canadian Health. Terzo was asked to pose for the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Christmas card, and has time for his popular blog at


Zachary Lewis, author of The Burly Man, was chosen as a finalist for “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.” Lewis was chosen from a field of hundreds of authors who appeared on The Authors Show Radio in 2012. In his interview he discusses what it was like to be diagnosed with two incurable diseases in one year and how he copes on a day-to-day basis with those conditions. Zachary Lewis is the President and CEO of Weishendo Publications. He is the author of The Principles & Philosophy of Weishendo, The Divine Spear & Intrinsic Staff of WEISHENDO, and The Burly Man. He also moderates an awareness group on Facebook called, R.A.I.D., which stands for Raising the Awareness of Auto-Immune Disease.


Sharon E. Cathcart’s novelette, The Rock Star in the Mirror (or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life), is a double nominee in the Global eBook Awards for Best Cover and Fiction: Short Story.


The Stories To Tell Books blog ( has been chosen as a finalist for “The Future of Ink’s” Top-Ten Self-Publishing Blogs Award. The blog is written by editors Nancy and Biff Barnes of Stories To Tell Books, a Northern California editing and book design firm. Their blog provides information on various aspects of the publishing world, and emphasizes instruction and inspiration for authors at every step of the process of creating a book, including writing, editing, book design, and publishing.

Contests, Events and Opportunities

The Contests, Awards, Events, and Opportunities listings are located on the SPAWN blog. Please use these links to get the latest information
Contests and Awards
Events and Opportunities


SPAWN is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. SPAWNews advises “caveat emptor” when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you. SPAWNews was proofread by Bonnie Myhrum, Professional Secretary, LLC. 734-455-0987
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