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SPAWNews, April, 1997

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SPAWN Poetry Contest

Congratulations Poets!

The poetry contest is over, the judges have chosen and here are the winners.


1st: Cheryl Latif, "slam dunk"

2nd: Betsy Cuffel, "At a Waterfall"

3rd: Cheryl Latif, "the ghost of niobe"


1st: Jim Lane, "Whatchamacallit"

2nd: Joyce La Mers, "Waiting for the Millennium Bug"

3rd: Patricia Moore, "Dawnsong"

There were so many good poems that it was difficult to choose the leaders from among them. We had three original judges, all of them experts in the field of poetry and, wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t all pick the same poems. So we assigned a fourth judge to choose from among the judges’ picks.

Several other poems were also deemed outstanding by the judges. The following were cited for excellence:

Betsy Cuffel, "Funeral for a Music Box"

Carol Doering, "Warrior"

Joan Downey, "Snowdreams with Anne"

Mary Embree, "Angel," "Endings," and "Sheena’s First Christmas"

Nan Hunt, "Eruptions"

Coni Kalinowski, "Love’s Coat"

Barbara Marysdaughter, "Wild- woman and the Deer on the Beach"

Michele Petersen, "Saving Face"

Mary Scott, "Chameleon"

Roni Tagliaferri, "Coma"

Mary Langer Thompson, "First Day in an American School"

We are grateful to our judges, Dr. Michael R. Collings, Perie J. Longo, John Gorham and Patricia Fry, for so graciously giving of their time and expertise to make these difficult choices.

We also want to thank all of the poets who participated. The 1st and 2nd place winners’ poems are below.


Please see the meeting page for addresses and directions to meetings

Santa Barbara County Chapter

Next meeting: Saturday, April 10

Skip Press, author of the new Writer’s Guide to Hollywood Producers, Directors & Screenwriter’s Agents (1999-2000) will discuss how Hollywood works: An A to Z tour plus essential information on submission protocols and preferences for hundreds of agencies and production companies.

Skip Press is a novelist, screenwriter and producer.

The Chapter meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Library & Museum. Members and their guests are free; otherwise a $5 donation is requested. For more information, contact SBC Chapter President Dallas Glenn at 805/899-1174.

West Ventura County Chapter

Next meeting: Monday, April 26

Jamie Otis will speak about his experiences writing, directing and producing the television documentary "Secrets of the CIA" which appeared on the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) late last year. He’s now working on a feature length film on the same topic.

Otis will tell us his rags-to-riches story of how he financed the project and eventually broke into the hard-to-crack world of television and he’ll offer advice to others wanting to follow in his footsteps.

If you’re interested in writing for the big or little screen, here’s your chance to learn about the process, the risks, the challenges and the joys.

Our Educational Moment will be presented by Carol Doering, President of the East Ventura County Chapter of SPAWN. She will explain how belonging to organizations such as SPAWN, Ventura Pen Women, Ventura County Writer’s Club, and others can help you grow as a writer/publisher.

The West Ventura County Chapter meets at 7:00 p.m. in the room above the Ventura Bookstore. For more information, call Chapter President Patricia Fry at 805/646-3045.

East Ventura County Chapter

Next meeting: Wed., April 28

D. Gordon Johnston, M.D. will be the speaker. After several successful careers, Dr. Johnston turned his talents and attention to writing. He will tell how he has pursued his new calling, how he found an agent, and about the two books he has just completed.

Dr. Johnston has been Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine and Consultant to the US Naval Underwater Warfare Laboratory. He holds technical patents and has been founder of high-tech companies.

His novel Desert Winds, a fictionalized memoir of his childhood, was published last fall. His second book, Lethal Mutation, a science-fiction thriller, is expected to be released this month. It is about a scientist who stumbles upon a mutant bacterium from the intestine of a porpoise which produces a powerful toxin.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Newbury Park Branch Library. For more information contact Carol Doering at 805/493-1081.

Happy Easter & Passover

When Poets Collide

by Roni*

In honor of National Poetry Month, a Poetry Slam will be held at Borders Books, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Thousand Oaks on Friday, April 16 from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. If you want to be a contender, be there at 7:00 sharp because only the first 12 people who sign up can participate.

At around 8:00 the games begin and for one hour 12 poets have three minutes each to impress the crowd and receive their points and applause. The judges make the final decision but everyone in the audience can try to influence the judges with their noisy, rousing and supportive response (or lack thereof) for their favorite contestant.

The rules:

  1. It is an open competition with an impartial audience judging.
  2. The number of contestants is limited to the first 12 people who sign up.
  3. Each poet has three minutes to present one of his/her own original poems (free verse or traditional).
  4. No music, props or costumes are allowed.
  5. Judges are chosen randomly from the audience. They will score each poem publicly, immediately after its performance with a score from 1 to 10 (10 being best, using decimals if needed). The decision is based on both content and performance equally weighted.
  6. Borders being a public area, gratuitous profanity is discouraged.
  7. The prizes are $100 for first place, $50 for second, and $25 for third. If there is a tie, there will be a tie-breaking round. The Judges’ decisions are final.

A Poetry Slam is exciting, humorous, and dramatic, so don’t miss your chance to be a winning poet, an impartial judge or a curious spectator. For more information, call Borders at 805/497-8159 or e-mail me at

New SPAWN Advisory Council Member

We are very pleased to announce that Dan Poynter, the leading guru of self-publishing, has agreed to serve on our Advisory Council.

Most SPAWNers know Dan or know who he is. He is the author of more than 75 books and hundreds of other information products. Those who self-publish have found his book The Self-Publishing Manual to be the ultimate guide to the process of writing, publishing and promoting their books.

He will now be joining our illustrious group of directors and advisors, helping to shape the future of SPAWN.

Leadership Committee

by Patty Fry

The Leadership Committee is pleased with the success of the recent Poetry Contest and has decided to make it an annual event. We urge members to polish up their poetry for the 2000 Contest.

We will be publishing a catalog of members’ books to be distributed at bookstores, libraries, coffee houses and to SPAWN members. Watch for more information and an application in next month’s issue of SPAWNews.

Ruth Hibbard is almost finished with the SPAWN Directory. Please contact her at if you have any changes, additions or corrections to your listing or if you want to take advantage of our low advertising rates.

The next meeting is Saturday, April 17 at 2:00 at Mary Embree’s home. All members are invited. Please call for directions: 805-646-3045.


To celebrate SPAWN’s third anniversary we are awarding a SPAWN mug (or pen and pencil holder) to any member who brings a first-time guest to any chapter meeting during April. And your first-time guest is free; we won’t ask for the usual guest donation of $5.

Member News

Gerald Schiller’s new mystery novel is Death Underground. In it he has incorporated the building of the L.A. subway, a major earthquake, corporate corruption, and murder. Several of the characters who appeared in his first novel, Deadly Dreams, reappear in his new book.

Schiller is a member of SPAWN and the president of the Ventura County Writers’ Club. He has been a teacher and the writer/director of many educational, documentary, and promotional films and videos. He is also the author of The Dog That Belonged to No One, a novel for young people.

Death Underground is scheduled for publication in the spring. You may order any of his books through S-L Productions, P.O. Box 246, Newbury Park, CA 91319. Please make checks payable to G. Schiller.

PMA’s Ask the Experts

Here is another feature Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) is offering: a PMA Q&A "Ask the Experts" Web forum. A recent topic was "National & International Trade Shows: How to plan for and make the most of trade shows." The experts for that topic were Dan Poynter of Para Publishing and Jan Nathan, Executive Director of PMA.

A link to the PMA Q&A "Ask the Experts" can be found on the home page of the PMA Web site at

In their recent e-mail to SPAWN, they advise that PMA members may take advantage of some of the other benefits, including downloadable Fact Sheets in the Members Only area and the new search engine to make the newsleter section, with its nearly three years of articles, even more valuable.

If you are not already a member of PMA, we urge you to join. PMA offers their regular $80 membership to SPAWN members for only $54.

PMA is a trade association representing independent publishers. They offer cooperative marketing and educational programs. Their address is 627 Aviation Way, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266; 310/372-2732; fax: 310/374-3342; Email:

First Place: Nonrhyming

slam dunk

by Cheryl Latif

i’m drowning in words

not the can’t catch my breath kind of drown

but the dying for more

washed up on the shore resurrection

creatively cleansed and

sanctified kind of


awash in literary funk of the best sort

hallelujah hymns of metaphor

tsunami swells of poetic license

liberating me

as i go down for the third time

no place for sacrilegious sanctimonious saviors

in the guise of wordsmiths here

only in your face reflections from divine lovers of words

poets with polished stones culled from the depths

tossing them full force

sending them with perfect aim to

skip across the water

and sink



the heart

make no mistake

i’ve been carried by currents of

cadence and construct

swept into undertow swells of

perfect poetic pitch

and drowned in the waters of wordplay

god walks on the waters of wordplay

gasping with gratification

i come up for air

baptized and reborn


First Place: Rhyming


by Jim Lane

Saxifraga. Ispogon formosus—

names that stir my plant psychosis.

Confusion is the diagnosis—

no help to find in self-hypnosis.

Escallonia, coreopsis—

adding to the sad synopsis.

Globularia, kalmiopsis—

learned by rote like Thanatopsis.

Now let’s fire the opening shot—

and break this floral Gordian-knot.

Remember in this polyglot—

Myosotis is just a Forget-Me-Not.

Second Place: Nonrhyming

At a Waterfall

by Betsy Cuffel

water -

a silvery mane

shooting out



by deafening applause

like dying stars



by gravity

leaf -


gentle with wandering

thinks itself

over a cliff’

persuaded by wind


by glittering


that bloom in pools


butterfly -


alone, elementary


pulling, lofting

in counterpoint

with the leaf

against wind

against gravity

life -



and always



Second Place: Rhyming


by Joyce La Mers

The Millennium Bug is on the wing

And nothing is safe from his poison sting.

The Windows opened and in he flew

And nobody now knows WHAT to do

Y2K is coming

As prophesies foretold,

And wires which now are humming

Will soon be still and cold.

The bank will lose your money;

Your stock will go astray--

Ah, skies will not be sunny

When we get to Y2K!

On New Year’s Day the crash will come

when every computer will be struck dumb;

when phones won’t ring and planes won’t fly

and satellites drift in a silent sky.

The word that once was written

On paper now is through

In megabytes we’ve bitten

Off more than we can chew.

The chips we’ve been revering

Will be quite unaware

That data’s disappearing

Into thin, undated air!

As the deadly bug infests your town

Civilization will be shut down

The ATM will not dispense

And plumbing won’t emply its effluents

Y2K’s approaching;

It’s breathing down our neck,

With each new day encroaching

On the fin of our siècle.

Armageddon’s lurking,

But look for some redress--

When data banks aren’t working

There’ll be no IRS!

Should You Give Away Information Online?

© 1999 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Should you give away information in your non-fiction book?

Yes, you might gain an advantage by giving away your hard-won facts; think about the best direct mail packages. Do you receive offers from Boardroom Reports or from the medical newsletter created by Dr. Julian Whitaker? Have you noticed how much information they give you in their marketing mailings? They are demonstrating their expertise and earning your respect by giving you important information outright. They exemplify an excellent way to hand out part of the information cache while enticing the reader to sign up to receive more. This direct mail method also works online in several different ways.

Individual Chapters Online

Many people who are selling books are displaying full sections of the books online. For example, SPAWN member Virginia Cornell has established the Manifest Publications site at where visitors can read her humor columns and chapters from one of her books.

E-mailing Chapters on Request

Some small book publishers are allowing site visitors to choose one chapter to receive by e-mail. Thus the publisher has their e-mail address for later contact with new offers. It is

Including Links to New Chapters in a Newsletter

Some publishers are using a Web site form to sign visitors up for a frequent e-mail newsletter. The newsletter contains a link to a new book section which has been recently posted to the site. This method is used by Guerilla Marketing Online at

Including a Full Chapter in a Newsletter

Some publishers send a newsletter with a section of the book highlighted. Of course, the newsletter also contains ordering information and a link to the Web site.

Complete Free Book at the Web Site

This is the most startling method of all. Some publishers are actually placing one or more entire books online. Rough Guides publishes travel guidebooks in England. Three years ago, they decided to place the contents of their most popular travel guides online at

That move sounds foolhardy, but sales of Rough Guides books have risen 20% per year since the books have been online. You will find the success of this process even more surprising when you hear that Rough Guides does not sell directly to the public. They sell only through established bookstores, so Web site visitors must take the extra step of finding a bookstore carrying the chosen guide.

Rough Guides made the online books searchable, and they added maps and photographs, discussion groups, timely weather tips, and booking. Rough Guides filled their Web site with information to position the site as the ultimate travel source. The site generates traffic, and Rough Guides sells more books.


Note that the underlying concepts in these examples remain the same:

  1. Give away information to establish trust and respect.
  2. Keep in contact with site visitors to remind them of the site and your products.

Yes, giving away information online is an excellent way to attract buyers.

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is SPAWN's Webmaster and SPAWNews columnist. She is a professional Webmaster, online marketer, and technical writer.

BookExpo America

As we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, the BookExpo will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center this year on April 28-May 2. The BookExpo is North America’s largest annual convention of booksellers, publishers, agents, scouts and other members of the book community.

Saturday, May 1 has been designated Independent Publishers Day in recognition of their increasing importance to the publishing industry. BookExpo’s news release states, "It’s only natural that we should set aside a day to celebrate this rich diversity which is so much at the core of the book publishing community." They will be featuring "an array of activity, from contests to a special luncheon" and an "open discussion of some of the concerns and opportunities facing independent publishers today and in the future."

See March SPAWNews for details on seminars and reduced registration fees or call BookExpo: 800/840-5614.


SANTA BARBARA COUNTY CHAPTER: Saturday, April 10, 1:30 p.m.

Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 W. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara

Directions: 101 Freeway to Carrillo, right on Carrillo, left on Chapala, right on Anapamu. (Parking in back, off Chapala, just before Anapamu.) Guest donation: $5

EAST VENTURA COUNTY CHAPTER: Wednesday, April 28 , 7:00 p.m.

Newbury Park Branch Library, 2331 Borchard Road, Newbury Park

Directions: 101 Freeway to Borchard Road, right if going south, left if going north, to the 1st right, which is Michael. Right to first driveway on left.

WEST VENTURA COUNTY CHAPTER: Monday, April 26, 7:00 pm

Ventura Bookstore (upstairs), 522 E. Main Street, Ventura

Directions: From south of Ventura, take 101 Freeway to California, right to Main Street. From north, 101 to Ventura Ave. exit, right on Thompson, left on California.




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