SPAWNews Newsletter – January 2014


For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews:

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From the President

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

At this time of year, everyone is making resolutions and setting goals. Maybe you are too. Sometimes I hear people say that they want to make a certain amount of money in their business or get a certain number of subscribers to their newsletter. In my head (and sometimes out loud) I always ask "how?"

Some things you can control like how many times you send out your newsletter or how many words you write. But some things you can’t control, such as how many people sign up for your newsletter or who buys your products and services. You may make a change like offering a new more valuable report that increases the number of people who sign up. But there is no way to know exactly how many will actually do it.

Setting goals you can’t control sets you up to fail. Although setting goals you can reach through your own actions may seem less lofty or bold, in the end, they are more satisfying because all you need is the resolve to make them happen.

Here’s to a great 2014!

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

Editor’s Note

This month’s feature article is about writing a memoir. How are memories preserved and passed from one generation to the next? After all, that’s history. With e-mail, texting, Skype, and voice mail, inboxes fill up and messages are deleted. Photos are stored in a cloud rather than in an album. Handwritten notes are rare. Mary Anne Benedetto teaches people how to retain their memories in a meaningful way in her article about writing pet memoirs.

It’s time again to set up the Editorial Calendar for the SPAWNews. Is there a topic you’d like us to cover? Please send your suggestions to me at SPAWN newsletters are archived; you can always go back and look at previous copies—way, way back! To sign in, use your first and last name (no space) and your password. Forgot your password? Just ask for another and WordPress will e-mail one to you in a couple of minutes.

Starting in January, the Market Update will appear every-other month instead of monthly. Look for those updates to be jam-packed!

Happy Holidays,

 — Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

Join SPAWN at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Date: April 12-13, 2014.
Place: University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.

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 12 and 13, 2014. 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 to those who cannot 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 7, 2014.  (Yes, it’s a short deadline this year. So don’t procrastinate.)

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

Visit to view the online version of the SPAWN Catalog of Member’s Books and Services.

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:    

Join SPAWN here:   


SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

Be sure to read the first Market Update of the year. It features links to dozens of paying markets for poetry, fiction, and more. There are ten valuable newsletter recommendations and several interesting resources you’ll want to check out. Learn about a new, free blogging program and a new social media platform. Get interviewed on the radio, generate funding for your project, and earn some money from your good work. There are more than 60 resources and links this month. Don’t miss out on the opportunities. It may mean the difference between the success and failure of your book or freelance business.

Note: The SPAWN Market Update will be published every other month instead of every month starting with this issue. So watch for the next issue March 1st.

Join SPAWN by going to and click on Join/Renew.

Ask the Book Doctor:

Ask the Book Doctor: About Book Proposals for Memoirs and Finding Inspiration to Write

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: You have my completed memoir, (title deleted). Do I need to prepare a book proposal to present it to agents? Articles and books give different answers. It seems to me the proposals are for how-to books, not memoirs or biographies.

A: You’re seeing a variety of answers because it depends on the publisher or agent. Some agents and publishers want a proposal, especially if the book is not completely written, but many will take a strong query letter if the manuscript is completed; especially if it is professionally edited. While the manuscript is being edited, perform your research for agents you want to query and see if any demand a proposal for a completed memoir. If you don’t want to write a full proposal, choose agents and publishers that will accept a query letter instead. Next, write a strong short document explaining the book, your qualifications for writing it, the market for the book, and how you intend to market the book once it is released. If you put that information in your query letter, along with the word count for the book and the fact that the book was professionally edited, you may not need a proposal, which only covers that information in more detail.

Q: My ten-year marriage is ending. I don’t feel like writing. I have made only two entries into my journal. Do you have any advice on how to fight through the pain and write?

A: As a veteran of two broken marriages, I feel your pain. I’m sorry you have to go through it. Depression often leads to immobility. Many people need time to go from “overwhelmed” to “productive.”

Any loss results in grief, and grief that goes unresolved can lead to mental and physical problems. Instead of thinking of the issue as having to fight through the pain to write, think of the fact that writing helps you fight the pain. While immobility keeps you in a depressed state, doing something—almost anything—can get you out of that state.

When I was going through a divorce at the same time my mother experienced an episode I thought would lead to her death, I read On Death and Dying, a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I hadn’t thought about my divorce as being a loss that would result in grief, but the book made me realize I was going through a double loss. Kubler-Ross defined the stages of grief, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Give yourself time to experience your emotions and progress through the stages toward healing. Do what you need to do to work through these stages of grief. I hope writing will become one of those things, but do not be hard on yourself for not being able to write right away.

Journaling helped me a great deal, and it might work for you, if you can find a place and time that is conducive to writing. I started with “Day One” and wrote down what my then-husband said to our son about our separation and what my husband and I had, in reality, said to each other. I recorded my surprise that the information differed greatly. From the moment I started my divorce journal, I experienced relief that I could write my darkest thoughts without fear that my husband might read them. Writing my divorce journal did not make me want to write creatively right away, but I unintentionally recorded material I might have forgotten, otherwise. Years later, I returned to the journals and resurrected conversations, events, and emotions to use in stories and memoirs.

If journaling does not work for you yet, don’t push it, but sit for a portion of each day with pen in hand and see if anything happens. I mentioned finding a place conducive to writing, and I will reveal mine. I keep my journal in the bathroom. I have to sit for a while each morning anyway, so I multi-task for those five or ten minutes, recording my experiences, thoughts, dreams, plans, fears, aspirations, or whatever comes to mind. I like the confined space, the quiet, and the separation from others—including the dog—while I write and take care of my morning constitutional. See if the same ritual works for you.

You might also sign up for a class that gives writing assignments or look for places with monthly competitions and see if assignments and competitions inspire you to write. My free newsletter, The Writers Network News, has a monthly prompt called “Got Muse?” Subscribe to my newsletter and see if my assignments get you to write again. Join organizations for writers. Hearing other writers talk of their experiences may inspire you to write, but even if not, at least you will be out mingling with other writers.

As for me, deadlines inspire me. See if giving yourself a deadline helps, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You may set a deadline such as “I will write ten pages by the end of each month.”

Of all that inspires me, though, critique circles take the lead. When I am a member of an active critique circle, I must bring five new pages to each meeting, so I not only have a deadline, but I also receive encouragement and helpful feedback that keeps me going.

Try any and all my suggestions and see what works for you. On the bright side, your distress about not writing means you will get back to writing soon, either by using some of my suggestions or by finding your own inspiration.

To read more questions and answers, order the book Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing at 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

Red Hot Internet Publicity, The Insider’s Guide to Marketing Online by Penny Sansevieri
Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (2013) Paper, 259 pages (price varies according to where you shop)   9781480224957

You’ve probably seen this book before—in fact, I believe I have reviewed it for SPAWNews. This, however, is the newly updated edition. What’s new and different about this edition? Considering that the first edition came out in 2009 and a lot has changed since then, this one includes many updates, a more expansive view of the marketing options available on the Internet, and some ideas that weren’t even considered four years ago. Sansevieri introduces Pinterest, Google Plus and Klout, for example, and she catches the reader up to date on how to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to sell books. Do you have a blog site? Are you stumped as to how to attract a large following? Don’t miss her thirteen-page chapter on Red Hot Blogging.

A number-one concern for most savvy authors is how to drive traffic to their websites. This book is filled with tips, techniques, strategies, and tools. Certain reference books should be at your elbow; here are my suggestions: one or more good editorial guides (including The Chicago Manual of Style), a book focusing on the business side of authorship, a general marketing manual for authors, and this book on Internet marketing. Novelists should have a supply of good books on fiction-writing and style.

Capturing Pet Tales

Mary Anne Benedetto

“My dog doesn’t have a story,” my friend announced. Carol looked at me as though she had taken a huge bite from the center of a lemon wedge.

I had just explained to her that I was working on some amazing pet-story projects for clients. With Carol’s declaration that her pet had no story, I asked two simple questions:

  • How did you happen to choose Casper?
  • Has he ever experienced any medical issues?

Her response was a rapid-fire machine-gun blast of enthusiastic tales, with one poignant anecdote leading to another.

When Carol finally paused to take a short, deep breath, I had to say it. “I thought that your dog had no story.” I gave her a sweet, sympathetic smile so she would recognize that I wasn’t being obnoxious.

Shrugging her shoulders, she replied, “I see what you mean.”

Whether Fido or Felix became a household member as a puppy or kitty or arrived later in life following your welcome rescue, preserving the story of a pet does not have to be an overwhelming task.

Whether you are capturing pet tales for purely personal reasons or for potential commercial aspirations, two helpful tips for capturing those special memories of our furry friends are:

  • Take your time. It is not necessary to complete the project in one single writing session. Consider the individual aspects of your pet’s typical behavior and preferences. What makes him unique? What are her favorite activities? What tugs at your heart when you think of him?
  • You do not have to achieve literary genius status to write about your pet. If you are having difficulty creating the stories, jot down several notes about her life and obtain an inexpensive hand-held recorder. Relax and speak about your pet and her story as though you were telling these tales to a dear friend. Your thoughts and memories can easily be transcribed into a document. Enhance with the insertion of photos, and polish and shine with proper editing.

There are two instances when delaying this project is a practical choice:

  • He is still a baby. It is premature to write the life story of a puppy or kitten, but you have a distinct advantage. You have ample opportunity to journal about your young pet and capture many details that you might otherwise forget. When Max or Tinkerbelle is at least two years old, you will then have a collection of journal entries as resource material from which to formulate your stories. If you continue to periodically journal throughout his life, you will enjoy the work-in-progress as your pet matures.
  • Your treasured pet has just passed away. This is a time of grieving, and it might be too painful to tackle the project at that time. Our pets are just like family members, and we love them even more than we care about some of our relatives! If working on the stories of Mortimer or Jessie is simply too difficult, give it some time. As special memories enter your mind, jot them down as brief entries on a designated pad, journal, or notebook. Collect and save them for a day when the loss is less fresh and distressing. You will always miss your pet’s presence, but a time will arrive when writing these pet tales can be therapeutic. Eventually producing the stories may also help younger family members cope with and understand the cycle of birth, life, and the eventual passing of animals and humans.

We are blessed with the time that we are given with pets and family, and their life stories truly deserve preservation.

“Some people say that pets are perpetual work and a demanding responsibility. When a pet passes, I may swear that I won’t get another, but before long I miss having a furry friend who is always happy to see me. I am never without a pet for very long!”                 —Anonymous

Mary Anne Benedetto is an author, blogger, ghostwriter, Certified Lifewriting Instructor, and speaker. A passionate advocate of capturing our lifetime memories as a legacy to future generations, she also developed a simple method of capturing recollections of treasured pets. Write Your Pet’s Life Story in 7 Easy Steps! and her additional titles are available on Amazon, Kindle, and Nook. Visit for all publications and links to various formats. She is the author of Eyelash, Never Say Perfect, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing, From Italy with Love & Limoncello.

Member News

Lucinda Sue Crosby has picked up two steady magazine gigs: Desert Entertainer and Prime Time (about active seniors), which publish out of Palm Desert. Also, on Saturday, January 4, she’ll be the featured speaker for the monthly Palm Springs Writers Guild meeting. Her topic: If I Can Do It, YOU Can Do It: sometimes ignorance IS bliss.   (Lucky Cinda Publishing)


Barbara Florio Graham has been handling three mentoring clients this year, in addition to keeping in touch with several others. Becoming known as a specialist in contract review, she was hired to write a contract from scratch for a client who publishes a magazine for a professional organization, as they were receiving requests for reprints. She’s also reviewed several book contracts for authors negotiating with large trade publishers.

Bobbi continues to write for several writers’ newsletters and was published this year in Freelance Writers’ Report, The Byline (a publication of the Canadian Authors’ Association), Funds for Writers, and SCRIBE (the newsletter for newsletter editors). She has also written articles for newsletters of groups she belongs to, such as SPAWN and the Cat Writers’ Association.

Bobbi’s cat, the famous Simon Teakettle III (Terzo), continues to contribute weekly to his popular blog and this year is featured on a Perpetual Calendar. Five cats from his MEWSical Society (including Terzo) are captured on blank greeting cards. See links to all of this from his blog page: His fan club (also linked from the blog) has grown immensely and includes 169 cats, 80 dogs, three parrots, a ferret, four alpacas, a llama, a horse, two rabbits, two beta fish, four hens, a parakeet, a robin, two ducks, a pig, a goat, a koala, two kangaroos, from fourteen countries on five continents.

All four of Bobbi’s books are sold from her website, and Mewsings/Musings is also in the Red Tuque Books catalog. Her Canadian Libraries List is popular with authors and small publishers, as it offers more than 90 Canadian libraries with actual purchasing power for just $35.

Bobbi adds regularly to the Media Room page on her website, and her annual newsletter is now linked from that page as well:


Leon Cooper has a You Tube video about his new book, The Patent Jungle, an Inventor’s User Friendly Guide. The book is a “cookbook” of suggestions for getting through the patent process without losing money, time, and your temper in the process. See the video at


Denise DeMaras is in the business of inspiring others and thought these tidbits might inspire other writers and artists. She says: “This year my first book and companion card deck took off at a snail’s pace, but now with the year coming to an end, I see sales and some recognition. They were featured on CBS’s The Morning  Blend with Donna Bozzo. I also had a soft launch for a new online magazine (working with a learning curve on site development and design) at www.womensholistichealthnews.comPrevention Magazine included a long quote from me with information for others to find me. This resulted in book sales. too. 

“For the coming year, I decided to make life simpler and eliminate print publishing, at least for my upcoming books; they will be e-books. Much less paperwork and more profit, I hope! I’ve decided to sell my art, too, and am looking for a venue.”


Welcome new member Jennifer from Acapella Book Cover Designs. “I’m a book cover artist and graphic designer. I have been designing print and e-book covers for published and first-time authors for fifteen years. My designs have been featured in Time, Wired,  on NPR, SiriusXM, WOAI radio, Jerry Butler Show, and Inside Sports Fishing magazine.”,

And new member Mary Anne Benedetto, whose article about writing your pet’s memoir is in this issue. Mary Ann has also written memoirs about humans, as well as travel memoirs. Her blogs can be found at:


Stephan Morsk has an ad in the December Harper’s for HE, his novella. A review from Kirkus is coming out December 19. Visit his website at for a new short story every month.

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).
Learn more about SPAWN at the Website

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