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SPAWNews is packed with writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing information. Each month you receive market opportunities, events, and articles you can use now!
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SPAWNews, May 1998 - Archives Available

New SPAWN Members

Canada, Dayna Bus: 805/646-4804

508 N. Signal Street

Ojai, CA 93023

Deen, Michelle, MFCC Bus: 805/962-0857

206 E. Victoria St., #F Fax: 805/682-0831

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Marriage, Family & Child Counselor specializing in Human Development and Family Relations

Fontelieu, Sukey Bus: 805/565-0682

407 E. Islay Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Gerber, Louise Borad Bus: 805/963-0449

520 Barker Pass Road Pager: 805/564-9182

Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Nonfiction writer, artist, owner of CLOSETS, ETC.

Otis, James, Owner/President Bus: (213)876-9744

Silence Film L.L.C. Fax: (213)876-9985

7700 Sunset Blvd., Suite 208

Los Angeles, CA 90046

Documentary Film Producer; various writing projects

Sommer, Tana Bus & Fax: 805/962-4581


125 N. Milpas Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Artist, poet, Art Coach in ArtReach Studio. Also facilitator introducing art media to others

Stiles, Kathy, Director Bus: 805/687-6466

2914 Paseo Tranquillo

Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Editor, proofreader, learning consultant, researcher, tutor, ESL teacher

Torfeh, David 805/658-7594

1304 Raven Avenue

Ventura, CA 93003

Writer, nonfiction & poetry


Kahn, Milton Bus: 805/969-8555

Milton Kahn Associates, Inc. Fax: 805/969-2645

P.O. Box 50353

Santa Barbara, CA 93150

Public relations and promotion for publishers and authors.

Has represented bestselling authors such as James Halperin, hockey legend Gordie Howe, and Santa Barbara actor/novelist Bradford Dillman.

NOTE: Please update your SPAWN Member Directory by adding this information.


Frances Halpern’s column, “Words & Images,” that appeared every Thursday in the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times has been canceled!

“Words & Images” covered the literary and arts communities both in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County for years and we came to depend on Frances Halpern to report on events and activities of local writers and artists. Unless an author or artist is already famous, it is difficult to get noticed. But we in the creative community knew that we had a friend at the Los Angeles Times, someone who did care about us whether or not we were big advertisers or drew large crowds.

For self-publishers, small publishers, first-time authors, and budding artists, it’s always been an uphill battle to achieve recognition. And now, with “Words & Images” gone, it will be even harder for us to let the world know we’re here.

Please join me in writing to the Los Angeles Times and letting the paper know how disappointed, how saddened we are that we can no longer look forward to our cultural “fix” on Thursday mornings.

Address your letters to:

Ms. Wendy Miller

Editor, Ventura Weekend Edition

Los Angeles Times

93 S. Chestnut Street

Ventura, CA 93001

Maui Writers Conference

We wrote about this in our February newsletter but it’s worth reminding you of this fine opportunity to combine your vacation with a learning experience and a chance to get your manuscript noticed at the Maui Writers Conference over the Labor Day Weekend, September 4-7, 1998. In various workshops and seminars, bestselling novelists, screenwriters, film directors, agents, editors and publishers will help you find the information and people you need to further your writing career.

Arrive earlier and you can attend the Maui Writers Retreat, August 29 through September 3. It is billed as “six intense, inspiring days learning the art and craft of fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting.” The curriculum includes Craft of Writing Workshops, Business of Writing Workshops, Agent and Editor Contact, and Group Leader Sessions.

For more information contact:

Maui Writers Conference

P.O. Box 1118

Kihei, HI 96753

Tel: (808) 879-0061; Fax: (808) 879-6233



Are You Ready for Free Publicity?

by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Don’t use the shotgun approach and simply send out 5,000 press releases to a large media mailing list. That approach annoys editors when they receive releases inappropriate for their publication.

Start by building relationships with editors, establishing yourself as an expert in your field. You want to lay the groundwork for articles chronicling your services or product. If you start slowly and keep working at it, you’ll see your coverage snowball.

Does this really work? It sure does. I followed these steps to develop publicity for my software company. Over time, we were featured in three cover articles and one full feature article from the publication which was most important to my potential clients.

Six Steps to Follow

1. Read the newspapers and magazines you hope to reach with your publicity. While you are reading, develop an outline of the type of story they publish.

2. Make two lists:

  1. one list of the writers and editors who write about your topics,
  2. one list of those who write for the people you want to reach.

3. The writers and editors on those lists can benefit from your expert information, so volunteer your services as an industry resource to each of the appropriate editors. After editors see your expertise, they will be open to future articles. In fact, they will come to you often.

4. Offer to send your newsletter to your chosen editors so that you can remind them of your expertise periodically.

5. Don’t talk about your specific success story, but describe your success in terms of your clients’ success. Tell about the teachers who used your book to convince junior high students that reading and history can be fun. Tell about hopeful writers who used your book to write compelling book proposals.

6. Give your hometown paper a real story about your product or services. This cannot be a simple announcement of a new service or a new edition. Rather, the story must convey some important news. A plumber in the Valley recently ran a publicity campaign based on the news that all of his trucks carried pictures of missing children. His company basked in TV coverage and feature articles (with pictures) in the Daily News and the Los Angeles Times.

Go to It

Take the time to build the relationships. After you become known to writers and editors, you will reap the free publicity over time.

BOOK REVIEW by Mary Embree

Well, this isn’t exactly a book review but a review of SPAWN member Dan Poynter’s videotape, Writing Your Book, 75 minutes VHS; ISBN 1-56860-048-8; $29.95. For those who are just getting started, this is an excellent overview of organizing a nonfiction book, overcoming obstacles and blocks, finding an editor, getting your book into stores and promoting it. Dan appears in the video, his usual upbeat, pragmatic self, offering a wealth of information useful to new nonfiction writers.

If you have already been to one of Dan Poynter’s talks or seminars and are a little farther along with your book, probably your best bet is to get his current issue of The Self-Publishing Manual; How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book. Both are available from Para Publishing, P.O. Box 8206-372, Santa Barbara, CA 93118-8206. Telephone: 805/968-7277; fax: 805/968-1379; e-mail:

The Word

A good word is like a good tree whose root is firmly fixed, and whose top is in the sky.

~ The Koran

Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach Of ordinary men

~ William Wordsworth

A word is dead

When it is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live

That day.

~ Emily Dickenson

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.

~ Horace



Instead of the regular interview, we have received permission to reprint the following article by new member, James Otis that first appeared in the “Lives” column of the New York Times Magazine on January 18, 1998. James Otis is directing a television documentary that will be shown on Turner Cable in the fall and a documentary film set for theatrical release this August. He is also working on his first book, My Experiments with Silence.

Silent Sundays

Blind dates, telephone calls and other complications of one man’s weekly no-talking day.

I don’t talk on Sundays. I haven’t in more than three years. When my grandfather died, my last memory of him was hearing him yell at my grandmother. He had been ill for years, and his anger with his failing body often overwhelmed him. His death in 1994 focused both my desire to honor him and to get my own life in order.

I was living in Austin, Texas, at the time, working as an assistant to a professor who was writing a book about Gandhi. One day I ran across a reference in Gandhi’s journals to his practice of reserving one day a week for total silence. “A periodical decree of silence is not a torture but a blessing,” he wrote.

“You’re crazy!” said my roommate, Zahid. “You won’t talk at all? You won’t last a month.”

But I did. I started asking people not to phone or visit on Sundays. I printed up a small card that read, “I don’t speak on Sundays,” and began a journal. Writing notes to my friends, nodding and shaking my head, E-mailing¾at first, it was almost impossible to keep my mouth shut. And I was surprised at how people would purposely provoke me. Letting comments pass was hard at first, but became routine.

A few months later, a trip to New York was an eye-opener. “Would you like an aisle or window?” asked the airline’s ticket agent. I showed her my card and was baffled when she responded, “Mr. Otis, we’d like to upgrade you to first class.” The upgrades continued with hotel reservations and rental cars. Cabbies were friendly; police, chatty. Obviously most people thought I was either deaf or “religious.”

But a typical Sunday starts late, at home. Sitting in the backyard, I listen to the sounds around me and often fall into daydreaming. After a nap, I usually read. Sometimes the day ends with a silent film; my favorite is Chaplin’s “The Kid.”

All in all, the first year was good. I wasn’t trying to withdraw from the world so much as to look at it more carefully. Some days, I avoided noise and conversation; others, I enjoyed being with people.

This sometimes led to trouble. One Fourth of July, I sat with my brother on the beach in Rockport, Mass., watching the traditional bonfire. Afterward, in a Gloucester bar, two attractive women who had obviously had a few approached.

“Hi, guys, did you see the bonfire?”

My brother answered, “Yeah,” and I smiled. One of the women asked my name. I smiled again and shrugged. My brother started to explain, but the women weren’t buying it. Both of them became angry and started yelling at me. Further explanations and apologies didn’t work, and they left, mad as hell.

As time went on, I experimented with cutting out all forms of nonverbal communication. My head nodding was driving everyone crazy anyway, so I stopped. I experienced new flashes of clarity, an appreciation of each moment. Oranges in an orchard became brilliant van Gogh treasures. During a heavy rain, I watched the bark of a manzanita bush turned slowly from grainy orange to antique mahogany.

During my third year, while visiting Los Angeles, I took a chance and went on a silent first date. No dreaded awkwardness this time: she did all the talking. The best date of my life! As our relationship grew, the silence became important to both of us.

It hasn’t all been pleasure. Like a good shrink, silence seems to invite serious issues. Internal battles leave me feeling isolated and lonely¾face to face with family concerns, career problems, the arrival of my first child with the woman I met on that silent first date. A fight that goes unresolved on Saturday night leaves me frustrated and angry¾no words to help. Sunday brunch can be equally frustrating, when people say whatever they want about me, knowing I won’t respond.

But I wait for moments like last Sunday, when I went to a birthday party for a friend’s 6-year-old daughter. One little girl asked me, “What happened to your tongue?” I opened my mouth, smiled and shook my head. She said, “It’s in your mouth!” I closed my mouth, and she gleefully announced, “I saw your tongue!” Silent hide-and-go-seek. Pure joy. Kids neither fear nor judge my silence.

Silence is powerful, peaceful and simple. It’s also wild and a little scary. As a participant or observer, conflict, humor, cooking, sex, exercise and violence are all very different in silence. Most of my important decisions are made on my quiet days. On Mondays, I always feel more settled and secure, hesitant, nonetheless, to join the talking world.

Member News

On April 26, Andora Hodgin, Santa Barbara Chapter President, was honored by the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance for her lifelong dedication to the performing, visual and literary arts. The event benefits the Outward Reach/Inward Touch Youth Program that offers dance, music, art and voice lessons to at-risk and low-income youth.

We who have attended the SPAWN chapter meetings in Santa Barbara know of her many talents and remarkable expertise in putting together exciting events for our members and the community. Andora has been responsible for several notable SPAWN programs in conjunction with the Contemporary Arts Forum and the Karpeles Manuscript Library and Museum.

Thank you, Andora, for your contributions and congratulations!

The Ventura Bookstore joined 24 other independent retailers nationwide in an antitrust suit against Barnes & Noble and Borders. The suit, alleging illegal business practices that pose a threat to the independents’ survival, claims that the chains are charged lower prices and receive preferential treatment from publishers. The suit alleges that these practices place independent bookstores at a competitive disadvantage.

Ed Elrod and Kent Weigel, owners of the Ventura Bookstore, recently purchased Ojai’s Table of Contents. Please show your support for their bookstores and all neighborhood independent bookstores by purchasing your books there instead of the chains.

Debbie Puente of SPAWN’s Conejo Valley Chapter is doing great with her book, Elegantly Easy Crème Brûlée & Other Custard Desserts, recently published by Renaissance Books. They are selling like—well, you know. There was also an article on her in the April 2nd issue of Los Angeles Times Weekend Calendar with the heading, “Creme of the Crop. Cookbook by Thousand Oaks woman reveals sweet secrets of crème brûlée.”

She often brings desserts to Chapter meetings. And what a treat!

Gerald Schiller, SPAWN member and President of Ventura County Writers Club has a new book out. It is called, The Dog That Belonged to No One. Based on a true story, it is about a dog who came to the USA aboard the steamer Santa Rosa in 1880 and soon became known as “Bum” the “town dog.” It is for children 7-12 years old. To purchase it send $8.40 (includes tax and shipping) payable to G. Schiller of S-L Productions, Box 246, Newbury Park, CA 91319.

Patrick O’Kelly announces the startup of his consultancy to assist new publishers in the process of getting their book manufactured. Call him at 805/984-9502 for more information.

Short Story Contest

The San Luis Obispo NightWriters is sponsoring a short story contest. Here are some of the rules: The first 5 words of your opening sentence must be “Blame it on El Niño.” It must be typed, double-spaced and no more than 500 words. The last four digits of your Social Security number must appear on the upper left corner of each page. Entry fee is $10 for the first entry and $5 for each additional entry.

It must be accompanied by an entry form. Please contact Ann Schroeder, Contest Director for any additional information and an entry form at 805/466-1847 or write, sending a self-addressed stamped envelope, to:

SLO NightWriters

Short Story Contest

5945 Entrada

Atascadero, CA 93422

Cash prizes are $150 for First Place, $100 for Second Place and $50 for Third Place. The deadline for entries is midnight, July 31, 1998.

Spawn Santa Barbara Writers Circle

The Writers Circle is for members of any level—beginner or published—who seek a safe place to read and give feedback. Nonmembers may attend one free introductory meeting.

Please bring something to read. Time allotted each member is 20 minutes. This includes the reading and time for members to critique. Bring 5 copies of your work.

Meetings are the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, 6 to 8 p.m. at 515 Red Rose Lane #1. For more information call Dallas Glenn at 805/899-1174; Email:

SPAWN Creativity Salon

We have started a new gathering for SPAWN members to share their ideas and inspirations on creativity. Our first meeting was April 24 with only a few people present, those who had heard the announcement at our Conejo Valley and Ventura Chapter meetings. Subsequent meetings will be on the 4th Friday of each month, and all members are invited.

The next one will be a potluck and it will be held at the home of Molly and Ed Rockey at 6 p.m. May 22. (The Salon will begin around 7.) They will furnish the salad; members are requested to bring an appetizer, entree or dessert to share and a beverage for themselves. Please call and let the Rockeys know what you will be bringing.

The Rockeys’ address is 3276 W. Felton Street, Newbury Park. Exit Wendy and go south two miles to Felton and turn right. Phone: 805/498-5524.




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