2019 Bay Area Writer’s Contest

WNBA logo

The Women’s National Book Association is a 100+ year old venerated organization of women and men across the broad spectrum of writing and publishing. Our membership includes Editors, Publishers, Literary Agents, Professors, Academics, Librarians, Authors, Book Marketers and many others involved in the world of books. We honor and celebrate woman authors and diverse writers and hope to include YOU with our 2019 Bay Area WNBA Writer’s Contest, launching June 1st and running through October 31st, 2019. 

Genres include: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

Fiction and Nonfiction should be 500-2500 words. Poetry should be no more than 40 lines. 

Fees are: WNBA members $14.00 per submission, non-members $20.00 per submission. Participants may submit up to 3 pieces but must pay a separate fee for each submission.

We prefer unpublished work, though we do accept stand-alone excerpts from works seeking a publisher or agent. We accept simultaneous submissions, but if you are published elsewhere, please notify us immediately.

PRIZES: First Place earns $200; Second Place earns $100; Third Place earns $50.  Winners also get publication on the San Francisco WNBA website for 90 days. After 90 days the rights revert to the author, though if you publish it elsewhere please identify WNBA as the original publisher. If we publish your work, the rights still belong to you, though we ask you not to resubmit until 90 days after it appears on WNBA-SF and give us credit if it is published elsewhere.

You own the copyright. If we publish your work, the rights still belong to you, though we ask you not to resubmit until 90 days after it appears on Writer Advice and give us credit if it is published elsewhere.

Submit your work here, starting June 1, 2019.

Judges:

 

Amy Agigian

 

Alice K Boatwright Alice K. Boatwright is the author of Collateral Damage (Standing Stone Books, 2012); Under an English Heaven (Cozy Cat Press, 2014); What Child Is This? (Cozy Cat Press, 2017); and Sea, Sky, Islands (Noontime Books, 2019), as well as stories published in journals such as CALYX, Parentheses, and Stone Canoe. She was awarded the bronze medal for literary fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013 and won the 2016 Mystery and Mayhem Grand Prize for best mystery. She holds an M.F.A. from Columbia and has taught writing at the University of New Hampshire, UC Berkeley Extension, and the American School of Paris.

 

Cheryl DumesnilCheryl Dumesnil is a poet, memoirist, editor, and writing coach. Her books include two poetry collections, Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes and In Praise of Falling; a memoir, Love Song for Baby X; and the anthologies We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor and Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. To learn more about her work, visit cheryldumesnil.com.

 

 

Rebecca Fish Ewan is a poet/cartoonist/founder of Plankton Press. Her hybrid-form work appears in After the Art, Brevity, Crab Fat, Hip Mama, Mutha, Not Very Quiet, TNB, Punctuate & Under the Gum Tree. At Arizona State University, where she earned her MFA in creative writing, she teaches landscape design with focus on hybrid-form storytelling, human/nature connections and place-based writing. She is the Books with Pictures columnist for DIY MFA and book reviewer for Split Rock Review. Hybrid chapbook and zines: Water Marks and Tiny Joys. CNF books: A Land Between and her new cartoon/poetry memoir By the Forces of Gravity. www.rebeccafishewan.com

 

Eva Hagberg Fisher

 

B. Lynn Goodwin is an author, editor, teacher, and manuscript coach who owns Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. She’s written Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, which won National Indie Excellence, Human Relations Indie Book, and Pinnacle Book Awards as well as a couple Honorable Mentions. Talent won a bronze medal from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award and was short listed for the Literary Lightbox Award. You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers is still used by caregivers. Shorter works appeared in Hip Mama, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com, Flashquake and elsewhere.

 

Kate Farrell Kate Farrell storyteller, author, librarian, founded the Word Weaving Storytelling Project and published numerous educational materials on storytelling. She has contributed to and edited award-winning anthologies of personal narrative: Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother; co-edited Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s &’70s; co-edited Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence. She recently published a YA novella, Strange Beauty, and is currently writing a how-to guide for adults, Story Power: How the Art of Storytelling Can Change Your Life, Work, Relationships, and Legacy. Farrell is Past President of Women’s National Book Association, SF Chapter.

 

Sybil LockhartSybil Lockhart, PhD is a caregiver, parent, workshop leader, scientist, and editor. She is co-creator of literarymama.com, and creator of the Street Words 7 Questions Project. Her memoir, Mother in the Middle: A Biologist’s Story of Caring for Parent and Child (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster), tells a deeply personal story through a neuroscientific lens.

 

 

Erika LutzEricka Lutz’s eight books include the novel The Edge of Maybe, and her fiction and creative non-fiction is widely anthologized. She’s currently completing a memoir/cookbook, podcasts at Licking the Bowl, and provides book mentoring to writers and organizations (erickalutz.com). She lives in the Secret Undisclosed Location deep in the forests of the Sierra Nevada foothills where she raises chickens and manages her local farmers markets.

 

 

Bev ScottBev Scott had long desired to explore the whispered story about my grandfather. As my thirty-eight-year organization consulting career wound down, at the top of my list of goals and aspirations not yet pursued was to uncover these family secrets. After genealogy research did not reveal the full story, I concluded the story needed to be told as fiction using the facts as I knew them for a framework. Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness is the result. My previous work focused on non-fiction including Consulting on the Inside. I blog at “The Writing Life” on www.bevscott.com.

 

 

Annie StenzelAnnie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence, Big Table Publishing, released in 2017. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Allegro, Catamaran, Eclectica, Gargoyle, Kestrel, The Lake, and Whale Road, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit www.anniestenzel.com.

 

So You Want to Be An Author: Panel at East West Bookshop

East West Bookshop
324 Castro St, Mountain View, CA

Monday, June 3, 2019  7:00pm

Have you wanted to write a book, but you don’t know how to begin? Or maybe you’re writing one now, but you don’t know what to do when it’s finished. Is the manuscript complete, and you’re wondering how to market it for sale? In the fast-changing world of e-book and printed book publishing, there’s a lot you need to know. And we have it for you. Join our panel of publishing industry experts, all members of WNBA-SF, moderated by board member and author Sue Wilhite for a lively and illuminating discussion about writing, publishing and marketing your book.

Moderator: After spending 20 years in programming and database design, Sue Wilhite knew she needed to catch up and develop her right brain. She is now a best-selling author, publisher, Law of Attraction coach, and sound healer, and is known as the “Profit Attraction Mentor.” Sue specializes in getting her clients unstuck and encouraging them to fulfill their own destinies. SweetSoundOfSuccess.com

 

Distinguished panelists:

Brenda Knight

Brenda Knight, author of Women of the Beat Generation, will read new work and a tribute to “Beat Goddess” ruth weiss. Brenda began her publishing career at HarperCollins. An author of ten books, she won the American Book Award for “Women of the Beat Generation.”  In 2015, she was named Indiefab Publisher of the Year. She is Editorial Director at Mango Publishing and is President of WNBA-SF Chapter.

 

 

Michael Larsen

Michael Larsen co-founded Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents in 1972. Over four decades, the agency sold hundreds of books to more than 100 publishers and imprints. The agency has stopped accepting new writers, but Mike loves helping all writers. He gives talks about writing and publishing, and does author coaching. He wrote How to Write a Book Proposal and How to Get a Literary Agent, and coauthored Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. Mike is co-director of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference.  larsenauthorcoaching.com/

Nina Amir, the Inspiration to Creation Coach, is an 14-times Amazon bestselling author of How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual, Creative Visualization for Writers, and a host of ebooks. As an Author Coach and one of 700 elite Certified High Performance Coaches world-wide—the only one working with writers—she helps her clients Achieve More Inspired Results. Nina founded the Nonfiction Writers’ University and the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. She helps her clients get from the lightbulb moment to the realization of their dreams (without letting anything get in the way) and make a positive and meaningful difference with their words. www.ninaamir.com

 

 

Northern California Book Awards 2019

Northern California Book Awards logo

38th Northern California Book Awards
Sunday, June 23, 2019, 1:00- 3:30 pm

KORET AUDITORIUM • SAN FRANCISCO MAIN LIBRARY
100 Larkin Street, Civic Center, San Francisco
FREE ADMISSION

The 38th Annual Northern California Book Awards will celebrate writers and readers in Northern California. Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translation, and Children’s Literature will be presented, with brief celebratory readings and remarks by the winning authors. Master of Ceremonies will be Oscar Villalon, ZYZZYVA Managing Editor

A lively reception with book signing follows, all free and open to the public. The Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award and NCBR Recognition Award will be presented. NCBAs are presented by Northern California Book Reviewers, a volunteer association of book reviewers and book review editors, Poetry Flash, the San Francisco Public Library and the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, PEN West, and the Mechanics’ Institute Library

Nominees and honorees will be announced in May 2019. Visit Poetryflash.org (see front page NCBA feature) for the list of last year’s nominees and winners.

Eligible reviewers and readers are always welcome. More information on this page.

Productivity Hacks for Authors

Better than Caffeine: Healthy Habits for High Energy Writing

Manage your energy for maximum productivity with tools and tricks from author/yoga teachers and holistic lifestyle experts, and WNBA-SF members Saeeda Hafiz, Elise Marie Collins, and Patti Breitman.

Friday, May 31, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm

 

Location:
Mechanics’ Institute
4th Floor Meeting Room
57 Post Street
San Francisco, CA  94104

To register in advance for this FREE event, and for more information, click here!

If physical pain, fatigue, depression, discouragement or lack of focus have ever affected your writing, you need this workshop. Yoga, meditation, and a healing diet can help writers balance energy, inspiration and productivity. As writers we are expected to wear many hats, sometimes balancing day jobs with writing on the side. Authors must go from introvert to extrovert at the drop of a hat and be ready for interviews and public speaking, after spending months of solitary hours at the computer. The simple tools you will learn in this workshop will help you to be more alert, alive and inspired. You will notice the difference in your writing, creative process and focus.

Panelists will discuss how to ease into a healthy lifestyle, the impact of healing foods, exercise and sleep on writing. Learn tips and practices for energy and resilience from three authors who live, teach and write about yoga and health practices for modern times.

 

 

 

 

To register in advance for this FREE event, and for more information, click here!

Bridging: A One-Day Writing Retreat

with Keynote Speaker Elizabeth Rosner

Hedgebrook and the SMC MFA in Creative Writing program at Saint Mary’s College are collaborating to offer a one-day writing retreat for woman-identified, non-binary and genderqueer writers.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

9:00 am – 9:00 pm 

Location:
Saint Mary’s College of California
1928 Saint Mary’s Road
Moraga, CA 94575

Cost includes:

  • Food (three meals, happy hour, and evening cake and coffee)
    Vegan and gluten-free options available
  • Networking opportunities with Bay Area women writers’ groups
  • An evening keynote by Elizabeth Rosner, author of the novels The Speed of LightElectric City and Blue Nude, poetry collection, Gravity and nonfiction book, SURVIVOR CAFÉ: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory 
  • Your choice of two out of four afternoon workshops 

Funds raised from the retreat benefit Hedgebrook and the newly established Hedgebrook scholarship for a St. Mary’s MFA student.

For more information, please visit their event page. 

Our very own Brenda Knight will be on the publishing panel in the afternoon!

 

 

WNBA-SF National Poetry Month Reading and Mixer

The Beat Museum
540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

Sunday, April 28, 2019

3 pm: Poetry readings for about 90 minutes, and celebration with noshes and beverages afterward to 6 pm.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with the Women’s National Book Association Bay Area chapter in the heart of North Beach with some of the finest female writers around. Wild Women Poets will gather at the landmark venue, The Beat Museum in San Francisco.  Grab your bongos and wear your beret to what will be one of literary events of the year! This will also be a mixer with food, sparkling beverages and wine. Bring a friend and be ready for an evening filled with poetry, song, wine and a love of literature.

Brenda Knight

Moderator: Brenda Knight, author of Women of the Beat Generation, will read new work and a tribute to “Beat Goddess” ruth weiss. Brenda began her publishing career at HarperCollins. An author of ten books, she won the American Book Award for “Women of the Beat Generation.”  In 2015, she was named Indiefab Publisher of the Year. She is Editorial Director at Mango Publishing and is President of WNBA-SF Chapter.

 

Readers will include:

Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

 

Diane Frank is an award-winning poet and author of seven books of poems including Canon of Bears and Ponderosa Pines. Blackberries in the Dream House, her first novel won the Chelson Award  for Fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Diane lives in San Francisco where she dances, plays cello and create her life as an art form. She teaches Poetry, Fiction and Memoir workshops at San Francisco State University and Dominican University.

 

Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte is an Oakland writer of prose and poetry, having written three books and a contributor to several anthologies. Her latest book, Running For The 2:10, delves deeper into her coming of age in the Bay Area and reviewed as  “A great contribution to literature.”

 

 

Kate FarrellKate Farrell founded the Word Weaving Storytelling Project, in collaboration with the California State Department of Education funded by grants from Zellerbach Family Fund, San Francisco, to train educators at all levels, and published numerous educational materials.  Farrell edited the anthology, Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother  She is co-editor of the anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s & 70s, 2013—Finalist for Foreword Reviews 2014 Book of the Year Award and 2014 Indie Excellence Award. Farrell is co-editor for the anthology, Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence, 2014–Finalist for the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award and the 2015 Indie Excellence Award.

 

Jeanne PowellDr. Jeanne Powell received degrees from WSU in Detroit and USF in San Francisco. She writes and performs poetry, flash fiction, nonfiction and short plays. Much of her work has been published. Since 1996, her small press has published 20 poets. She teaches English, writing and social studies to youth and adults. Her cultural and film reviews appear at wattpad.com [worddoctor], starkinsider.com, and sidewalkstv.com. Regent Press published CAROUSEL.

 

Beatrice Bowles in her own words:

I tell stories about secrets that nature keeps. 
A spy in Spider Grandmother’s tattered web,
I weave words into gardens and rus
t into silk.

Jennifer Griffith is currently finishing her first book, a mother-daughter memoir, and is launching her podcast in May 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing When It Hurts

4 Perspectives to Make the Process Easier

by Sara B. Hart

How do you write about a difficult thing you’re going through?  And why would anyone want to do that anyway? When I was going through a major downsizing of my home last year, I found I longed to write about it as it was happening.  I thought it might help me get through the stickiest parts. And at some point I decided I wanted to make the writing pubic because I thought it might help others going through the same thing.  The result was my book “The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.” All of this has happened, and it is gratifying, but it wasn’t always easy. Here are the 4 things I found most difficult, and how I dealt with them:

Some of the feelings involved extremely personal things.  

For example I realized that some of the fear I was feeling was very similar to the fear I felt while I was going through treatment for a life-threatening illness.  Did I really want to make that previous experience public? I had decided I wanted the book to be as authentic as possible, so I did include that experience, but with a broad description and few specific facts.

Did I really want to live through the current experience again by describing it?  

Some of my downsizing moments were painful enough without having to do it all over again. Although I anticipated these difficult writing moments, I actually found that writing about them helped make them less painful.  To my surprise what was painful was reading the description again after the writing was completed.

How could I write about those times and not offend someone if they read what I’d written? 

A few of the things I wanted to write about involved other people who were doing and saying things that were definitely not helpful, and in some cases were hurtful.  Again, I leaned toward authenticity while choosing my words carefully. I also said over and over how cranky I was during this time, trying to blunt the impact of my words by taking responsibility for how I was feeling and behaving at the time.  That said, I discovered later that at least one person was offended. I think you just need to know that may happen if you want an honest description of what you were going through.

Often there were so many difficult things going on at the same time, I wondered what I should write about.  

As many of us often do, I just sat down and started writing, and found that what most needed to be said, came out.  This worked for me. You will have your own way, but as a writing teacher often says to us when we feel overwhelmed or stuck, “What CAN you do?”  And that would be my suggestion to you for those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed with feelings and just don’t know where to start.

Writing about difficult things as you’re going through them can be hard.  It also can be therapeutic and liberating and helpful to others who may be experiencing similar situations.  A crucial decision up front is, “How honest do I want to be?” The answer to that will guide much of what you say and how you say it.


About Sara B. Hart

“How will I know when I have enough?”  That is the question Sara Hart asks audiences when talking about her special project called Sign of Enough.  She began her project in the mid 1990’s, and recently her passion has been refueled as the results of our over consumption and greed become more and more obvious.  The idea also became the watch word for her as she completed a major downsizing of her home.  Sara focuses on the emotional side of this process in her book The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough. See her website www.signofenough.com  for more information.

Dr. Hart has been involved in helping to develop leaders and effective teams inside organizations for 30+ years.  Prior to founding her own management consulting company, Hartcom, Sara was in charge of Training and Development for the research division of Pfizer both in the US and the UK.  She has facilitated hundreds of groups and presented to scores of meetings.  Sara loves to go on bike rides, walks, and to attend concerts, opera, theatre, and especially to have dinner with friends.  She lives with her cat, Mr. Bu, in Los Altos, CA.

Popup Pitchfest 2019: Agents & Publishers

Pitch-O-Rama

The Sequel!

Saturday, March 30, 8:00 am – 1 pm
Women’s Building 
3543 18th St #8,
San Francisco, CA 94110
 
We are indeed having a Pitchfest this coming Saturday. We have confirmed agents, editors and publishers who will be taking your pitches, offering feedback and advice on publishing. We will continue to add agents this week.
If you previously registered for March 23rd’s Pitch-O-Rama, you of course attend for free; please let us know you’re coming by registering via the button at the bottom of the page.
 
If you wish to attend this event and did NOT previously register for the 2019 event, we will be taking checks at the door. You may also send the registration fee ($65 WNBA-SF members, $75 non-members) via PayPal to treasurer -at- wnba-sfchapter.org
 
Confirmed agents thus far are:
 
Andy Ross
Michael Larsen
Jill March Soloway
Nancy Fish
Brenda Knight
Lara Starr
Jan Johnson
 
We will also have a few New York agents who will be participating by remote via Zoom video & phone conference, including Anne Marie O’Farrell of Marcil-O’Farrell Literary, LLC, and Roger S. Williams of The Roger Williams Agency, a Division of New England Publishing Associates, Inc.
 
We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this process and will provide beverages, a continental breakfast with plenty of coffee and snacks. In addition, we will be holding a raffle – every attendee will get a ticket upon registering – for cool books, many signed by the author.
 
We will also the the master marketing class after pitches, starting at noon.
 
Please feel free to ask any questions by emailing president at wnba-sfchapter.org 
Fill out the form below so we know how many to plan for.

Meet the Agents and Acquisition Editors!

 

These impressive publishing professionals bring years of experience, and will provide advice, direction, and next steps for your literary project! 

Michele Crim is the West Coast literary agent for Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management, a boutique agency based in New York City. They represent authors such as Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Cal Peternell and Mads Refslund, co-founder of Noma, and MBG recently signed Moby to do a cookbook for his new award-winning restaurant, Little Pine. They work with chefs, food, and lifestyle writers and also represent fiction and narrative nonfiction writers, worldwide. Among others, Michele now represents Yumiko Sekine, founder of the beloved international brand Fog Linen Work; Allison Arevalo, best-selling cookbook author with a new book, The Pasta Friday Cookbook, coming out in September of 2019; and Charleen Badman, James Beard nominee and celebrated chef-owner of FnB Restaurant and Bar in Scottsdale.

 

Nancy Fish

Nancy Fish: In her long career in publishing, Nancy Fish has worked in almost every iteration of the book business. Having been publicity and marketing director for major houses including  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins and Pereus as welll as small indies, freelance publicist and copywriter, and bookseller at legendary shops on both coasts, Nancy now manages the Path to Publishing Program, and all the writers programs, at Marin County’s three-store treasure trove, Book Passage. Ask her about them. 

 

 

 Jan Johnson is Publisher Emeritus at Red Wheel Weiser & Conari Press acquiring select books for each imprint. Before launching Red Wheel/Weiser, Johnson worked at Tuttle Publishing, HarperOne (when it was known as HarperSanFrancisco), Winston/Seabury Press and as an independent book doctor, rewrite editor and editorial consultant for corporate and independent publishers. Johnson has worked on many bestsellers including Codependent No More, Random Act of Kindness, Oprah pick The Book of Awakening, and Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

 

Brenda Knight began her career at HarperCollins, working with luminaries Paolo Coelho, Marianne Williamson and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Knight was awarded IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year in 2014 at the ALA, American Library Association. Knight is the author of Wild Women and Books, The Grateful Table, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award. Knight is Editorial Director at Mango Publishing and acquires for all genres in fiction and nonfiction as well as children and photography books. She also serves as President of the Women’s’ National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter and is an instructor at the annual San Francisco Writers Conference.

 

 

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen co-founded Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents in 1972. Over four decades, the agency sold hundreds of books to more than 100 publishers and imprints. The agency has stopped accepting new writers, but Mike loves helping all writers. He gives talks about writing and publishing, and does author coaching. He wrote How to Write a Book Proposal and How to Get a Literary Agent, and coauthored Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. Mike is co-director of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference. An update is at larsenauthorcoaching.com/

 

 

 Anne Marie O’Farrell [Remote via Zoom] has been a literary agent for the past 29 years. She has been invested in growing and shaping the careers of the many talented and creative people with whom she has worked. She has accomplished this through her business as a literary agent and in her capacity as co-creator and owner of two other highly successful companies: a theatrical production company and a continuing education school in New York City. In 2008 she partnered with Denise Marcil to form Marcil-O’Farrell Literary, LLC. Anne Marie specializes in the nonfiction areas of human potential, personal growth, health and fitness, business, spirituality, sports, cooking, travel, gift, and quirky books. She is interested in representing books that convey and promote innovative, practical and cutting-edge information that will help people increase their self-understanding, maximize their careers, health and relationships, and expand their creativity and fulfillment.  Anne Marie sees the books she represents as a reflection of her personal values and taste.  Anne Marie proudly represents the world-renowned, best-selling Seth books including Seth Speaks and The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts. These books have sold more than eight million copies and have been translated into over fifteen languages.

 

Andy Ross Andy Ross opened his literary agency in January 2008. Prior to that, he was the owner for 30 years of the legendary  Cody’s Books in Berkeley. The agency represents books in a  wide range of subjects including: narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, religion,  children’s books, young adult,  middle grade, literary and commercial  fiction, and cooking. However, he is eager to represent projects in most genres as long as the subject or its treatment is smart, original, and will  appeal to a wide readership. In non-fiction he looks for writing with a strong voice and robust narrative arc by authors with the authority to write about their subject. For literary, commercial, and children’s fiction, he has only one requirement– simple, but ineffable–that the writing reveal the terrain of that vast  and unexplored country, the human heart. (AAR).  www.andyrossagency.com,  www.andyrossagency.wordpress.com  

Jennifer March Soloway is an Associate Agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, an agency that specializes in children’s literature. She enjoys all genres and categories of children’s literature, such as laugh-out-loud picture books and middle-grade adventures, but her sweet spot is young adult. Although she mostly represents children’s literature, she is also open to adult fiction. Jennifer adores action-packed thrillers and mysteries or conspiracy plots. But her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary people, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. Prior to joining ABLA, Jennifer worked in marketing and public relations. With an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, she was a fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto in 2012. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two sons, and an English bulldog. http://www.andreabrownlit.com/

 

Lara Starr has made her mark in publishing starting at Collins, Conari Press and Chronicle Books. A bestselling author of several books, she is also a producer to KGO Radio. Starr is a creative professional with expertise in public relations, marketing, media production, and special events.

 

 

Roger S. Williams [Remote via Zoom], founder of The Roger Williams Agency, a Division of New England Publishing Associates, Inc., has worked in publishing for over thirty years as a bookseller and sales director at Bantam Doubleday Dell, and Simon and Schuster. His background has spanned a broad range of successful positions from many publishing industry perspectives. He has been involved in sales, marketing, merchandising, editorial, and product development. He has run, and owned successful bookstores (both corporate and independent),  he has sold to traditional and special sales accounts, national retail, wholesale, mass market, and independent channels. Roger handles both fiction and fiction including narrative nonfiction and memoir. 

 

 

Featured Member Interview – Judy Bebelaar

Interview by Susan Allison

WNBA Featured author, Judy Bebelaar, has been writing for seventy-two years. Yes, that’s right, seventy-two years! She remembers writing her first story in first grade and then a poetry collection in third grade. Judy loved her teachers so much that she decided to become one. She taught in San Francisco public high schools for 37 years, especially loving smaller classes and encouraging her students to publish their creative writing.

Judy invited many poets from California Poets in the Schools into her classrooms, and she wrote with her students when she could. She believes she is the only classroom teacher to be named an honorary CPITS Poet Teacher. For twenty years Judy produced a multicultural literary arts calendar with her students, as a way of helping them publish their work in a way that people would read. She always published their poems in the school arts magazine, which was enjoyed by students, teachers and parents.

On a national level, Judy has received recognition for her success in helping students find joy in writing. Her students won many awards, including eight from Scholastic Magazine on the national level. Judy was honored on the national level as well, by State Farm, the Good Neighbor Teacher Award in 1996 (one of 8 nationally); by Business-Week/McGraw Hill in 1994, for innovative practices in teaching; and by Scholastic, The Whitehouse Women’s Leadership in Teaching, in 2002. For ten years she has been co-host of a reading series, Writing Teachers Write sponsored by the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley, which partners writers from the Writing Project with those from the Bay Area Writing Community and beyond.

In terms of publication, Judy’s poetry has been published widely in magazines and online, and has won many awards, most recently a first prize, two thirds, and the Grand Prize in the Ina Coolbrith Circle Poetry Contest. Her work is also included in many anthologies, among them The Widows’ Handbook (foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsberg) and River of Earth and Sky. Walking Across the Pacific is her first poetry chapbook. Judy’s poetry evokes myriad feelings in its beautiful simplicity:

The Moon and the Room and the Windowsill

that September night as we lay sleepless,
the moon spilled into the room,
soaking the rumpled clothes on the floor

so that hard words spoken
melted as we did, into one another

and the moon and the room
and the windowsill
and us there, still breathing

Her highly regarded non-fiction work, And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown, is about the students from Peoples Temple that Judy and co-author Ron Cabral came to know before most were sent to Jonestown. Of the 918 Americans who died in the shocking murder-suicides of November 18, 1978, in the tiny South American country of Guyana, a third were under eighteen. More than half were in their twenties or younger.

And Then They Were Gone begins in San Francisco at the small school where Reverend Jim Jones enrolled the teens of his Peoples Temple church in 1976. Within a year, most had been sent to join Jones and other congregants in what Jones promised was a tropical paradise based on egalitarian values, but which turned out to be a deadly prison camp. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the late 1970s, And Then They Were Gone draws from interviews, books, and articles. Many of these powerful stories are told here for the first time. In recognition of their work, co-authors, Ron and Judy, were recently honored as Library Laureates of 2019 by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Now that Judy is retired, she misses teaching and her students at times, yet remembers that she was often too busy to write. Now she can focus on her own work, and also has suggestions for other women writers, “In terms of publishing poetry, I’ve found submitting to anthologies is a great idea, and connects you with writers (and readers) who care about what you care about. Poetry readings can bring lots of people, too.” For every genre, Judy suggests joining a group, “Fellow writers in the many writing and response groups I’ve been in – or hosted myself – gave me good feedback and encouragement.”

And finally, Judy offers her truly sage advice: “I think for all writers I’d say: Don’t give up if it’s something you care about passionately. Think about your reasons for writing a piece or a book. Many times during the twelve years Ron and I worked on And Then They Were Gone, I thought it would never be published. But because I wanted to honor those young people who died, and those that had the courage to go on living in spite of great tragedy, I kept on.”

Judy has kept on the writer’s path as well. She is currently sending out a poetry manuscript and doing readings and talks with book groups for And Then They Were Gone. She will be moderating a panel, “Turning Tragedy into Hope: Teaching Transformation Through Writing,” at the 2019 AWP Conference in Portland, Oregon, Friday, March 29 at 10:30. The panelists include three other writers and survivors of Jonestown: Deborah Layton, John Cobb and Jordan Vilchez, as well as renowned educator and writer Herb Kohl.

Find out more about Judy Bebelaar at:
www.judybebelaar.com

Tips for World Building Your Memoir

Tips for World Building Your Memoir

by Nita Sweeney

It might seem odd to see “world building” and “memoir” side-by-side. Many writers think of world building as a tool used only in science fiction and fantasy. The red scarves in The Night Circus or light sabers in Star Wars come to mind. But a compelling story, regardless of genre, should be set in a specific world, a world the writer must build.

Like the novelist, a memoir writer can shape and mold the world the reader experiences. The main difference between world building in memoir and fiction is that the memoirist builds the world from known things, details chosen from the memoirist’s life. Memoirists are limited by reality, but the options are still plentiful. The memoirist carves from reality what the reader sees, feels, hears, tastes, and smells using what already exists.

In nonfiction, world building is sometimes referred to as creating a sense of place. But thinking of it as world building reminds the writer that the process is a series of choices, the same decisions novelists make. A fictional world might include magic, space ships, or time travel, but even in those worlds, the writer chooses which elements to emphasize. No matter how far in love a writer falls with the world she creates, she can’t include every detail.

How shall the writer choose?

Phases of World Building in Memoir:

In Bird by Bird, Anne LaMott referred to an unnamed friend when she explained her process:

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft — you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft — you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.”

World building follows the same phases.

The Down Draft:

Some writers outline and plan before attempting a first draft. As a “pantser,” someone who writes by the seat of her pants, outlining and planning equals stalling. I head right to the page.

Like LaMott, my first draft is the “down draft.” Using “writing practice,” a term coined by best-selling author Natalie Goldberg, I set a timer and “go” for a specific amount of time. The world that appears in early drafts arises from what Goldberg might call “first thoughts,” the initial detail I remember as I tell the story to myself. I don’t worry about setting the scene. I just get the story on paper. If I get caught up in describing the pattern of bark on the sycamore, the reader may never find out whether I finished that twenty-mile run. It’s more important to finish the initial draft.

As I write, I make notes in the text. I use two “at symbol” marks (@@) to note places where I have forgotten something or if the backdrop feels shallow. Later, I can search for “@@” and fill in the detail. I repeat the timed writing until I have a full first draft.

I trust this organic “down draft” process for three reasons. First, there’s science behind it. A brain structure called the reticular activating system (R.A.S.), filters out the details I don’t need and focuses on the ones that have meaning. The R.A.S. is at work when you buy a new car. You choose the power blue Pinto because it’s special and different. Then, when you pull out of the lot, you see powder blue Pintos on every street. Did they appear out of nowhere? Of course not. Your RAS had filtered them out. Not intentionally. You just didn’t need to see them yet. Our minds cannot handle the number of sensory stimuli we actually receive. When you are creating the world for your memoir, your R.A.S. is also at work. Start with what you automatically notice and easily remember. The result often surprises me. I didn’t know what I remembered until I wrote it down.

The second reason to trust this seemingly random process is because it taps into each writer’s unique take on the world. The lens through which she sees the story is what makes the book special. That writer’s filter will separate her book from the flood of similar works in the market. Head to the memoir section of your local bookstore. Scan the titles. How many books trace the author surviving childhood? The fact that Mary Karr wrote about harrowing family circumstance in The Liar’s Club didn’t stop ‎Jeannette Walls from penning The Glass Castle. While these two memoirs contain similar themes, each book describes a vastly different world, the world each author lived. These sensory images are ripe fruit just waiting for the writer to pluck them off the branches.

The third and most important reason to do a “down draft” is that you can’t edit a blank page. Before I discovered this process, my perfectionistic, anxious mind made writing nearly impossible.

The Up Draft

In the revision phase, I start by searching for the “@@s” and filling in what I thought was missing. Next, I read the entire work with an eye solely for building my world. I ask questions: Where am I? Who am I with? What am I eating, wearing, talking about, thinking about? Was I aware of any tastes, smells, sounds, or feelings? What matters to me? I also think about what else was going on in the world. This could be as complex as the international political scene or as simple as a neighbor child’s bake sale. I ask what is happening outside my world. If I don’t know the name of something, this is the time to look it up.

The following tools help bring memories to the surface:

  1. Eyes Closed: I put myself in the scene again and imagine walking or running or driving through.
  2. Eyes Open: Since I can’t remember everything, I open the laptop or head to the library and research. Again, I trust my gut. Skimming an article about the Olentangy River might remind me of a day the water was so high we couldn’t cross the trail.
  3. Go: If I can, I visit the place. When I was writing a memoir about the last year my father was alive, I couldn’t remember details about a raptor sanctuary I visited. Research gave me an excuse to make the pleasant drive to Yellow Springs where it is located.
  4. Perk Time: I let it percolate. I take the dog for a walk, go for a run, or go to a movie with my husband. If I can distract myself enough to let go of the scene, the best image will often pop into my head.

Using this new information, I weave and polish and add and subtract to transport the reader into my world.

The Dental Draft

Now it’s time to make sure the world serves the story. No matter how lovely, if my “darling” images do not convey meaning, show character, or move the plot forward, they must die. The world I’ve created must put the reader exactly where I want the reader to be.

For example, in one scene in an early draft of my running memoir, I wrote in great detail about the lush vegetation along the Olentangy Trail. I adore the trail, spend hours there, and practically breathe in the green. After many revisions, I mention only the poison ivy. Eighteen miles into a twenty-two-mile run, I could only see the scarlet leaves. When I pointed those out to my running partner, she reminded me not to touch them. I’d forgotten about the rash and itching that would result if I did. Narrowing the focus in this way shows the reader how fuzzy my mind gets on a long run. This choice creates the world I want the reader to experience.

We each have our own writing process and world building is no different. I’ve given you a glimpse of mine. It might sound inefficient, but I afford myself a lot of breathing room to do it the way that works for me. I hope you’ll allow yourself the same space to discover the best method for you.


About Nita Sweeney

Nita Sweeney’s articles and essays have appeared in magazines, journals, and books including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, BumGlue and publishes a monthly e-newsletter, Write Now Newsletter, which features a short essay, a schedule of the classes she teaches, and a list of central Ohio writing events. Her forth-coming memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, was short-listed for the 2018 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. She was recently interviewed for the radio show and podcast Word Carver. When she’s not writing, Nita is running and racing. She has run three full marathons, twenty-six half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than sixty shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and her future running partner, the yellow Labrador puppy, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).