South Asian Books to Celebrate Earth Day

Written by Gauri Manglik

Gauri Manglik, South Asian booksHere’s a round-up of some unique stories that remind us it’s not just Earth Day but everyday, that we need to respect the Earth and take only what we need. Reduce, Re-use and Recycle! 

Alone In the Forest: Musa, a young boy sets off from his village to the forest to collect some firewood, but gets trapped. Beautiful illustrations bring alive the forest, and the boy’s fears, but mother nature eventually helps him find a way out.

Aani and the Tree Huggers: Based on true events in north India (referred to as the Chipko Andolan), this story shares how a group of women courageously hugged trees to prevent them from being chopped. A powerful and heartwarming story of courage and standing up for our beliefs!

Crane_Boy_coverCrane Boy: This SABA Honor book shares a story about school-aged kids in Bhutan organizing the community and creating a crane festival to help make the depleting number of black-necked cranes feel at home. A beautiful story about a unique place on this earth.

Gobble You Up: Exquisite bookmaking and gorgeous illustrations come together in this book to share a Rajasthani trickster tale about a greedy jackal who decides to eat his friends up. Great for read-alouds!

Iqbal and his Ingenious Idea: When Iqbal sees his mother and baby sister coughing due to the firewood stove, he decides he must do something. He decides to work hard on his science fair project so he can use the prize money to buy a gas stove. However, his ingenuity leads to an even more sustainable solution!

Barefoot Book of Earth Tales: An engaging collection of seven tales from around the world about respecting and caring for the earth in gentle ways. Bright illustrations and fun activity pairings add to the appeal of this book!

putulandthedolphins_coverPutul and the Dolphins: A young girl is delighted one day when two friendly dolphins leap right outside her window in the monsoons! A gentle reminder about how our worlds are so interspersed and we must empathize and be respectful of nature and animals around us.

Tiger Boy: Set in the Sunderbans, one of the natural wonders of the world, this book is an insightful perspective on the dilemma a young boy faces when a tiger cub is discovered; should we focus on his studies or save the tiger cub from being poached?

water_coverWater: Beautiful illustrations by Gond artist, Subhash Vyam share a story about access to water in villages and cities, and how our lives are interconnected. He cleverly weaves in an old fable reminding all of us to only take what is our due.

Where’s the Sun: One morning, a mother and child go in search of the sun. Will they find it? Beautiful Warli illustrations take us on a journey where lively birds, quick-footed animals and busy humans meet and share the forest, the river and the mountain.

Use code EARTH15 to get a 15% discount on Kitaabworld.com‘sur Earth Day collection  (valid till April 30th 2018) 

Gauri Manglik has more than 12 years of experience as a lawyer, and she has practiced law in both India and the United States. During her legal career, she advised on various aspects of corporate and commercial laws. In 2015, she chose to follow her passion and left her legal career to start Kitaabworld. She is passionate about making South Asian culture fun and accessible for children, as well as sharing her love for diverse children’s books.

The original version of this post appeared on Kitaabworld.com and is republished here with the author’s permission. 

Lucky Gals: WNBA-SF Spring Break

With Shanti Sekaran

Written by Mary Volmer

Shanti Sekaran (left) at SMCOn April 4th a vibrant collection current and potential members of the WNBA-SF met for an evening of conversation and libations at beautiful Saint Mary’s College (CA). Later we joined the bustling crowd gathered in De La Salle Hall to hear Shanthi Sekaran, Saint Mary College’s Distinguished Writer in Residence, discuss her exquisite new novel Lucky Boy.

WNBA-SF mixer group The night was remarkable not only for the company, but also for the insights Sekaran offered about the challenges of writing characters outside of one’s own experience. To summarize, she said that an author must come to terms with, and be honest about, what she does not know.

An author must invest herself in the necessary research, ask questions, and trust the story to “ask its own questions.” She must be vigilant, but also humble and willing to concede that her vision, however well realized, might yet be imperfect. Her wisdom was well received by the poets, fiction and non-fiction writers alike, many of whom stayed behind to talk and digest the literary delights of the night.

WNBA-SF Board Member Mary Volmer is the author of two novels: Crown of Dust (Soho Press, 2010) and Reliance, Illinois (Soho Press, 2016). 

Featured Member Interview – Sharon McElhone

Interview by Nina Lesowitz

Sharon McElhone, featured member interviewWNBA-SF Board member Sharon McElhone became obsessed with writing at 18 years old after reading a life-altering novel and has been writing articles, poems, and essays ever since. Today, her seventh book is nearing completion.

“I found my way into journalism sixteen years ago through an internship at La Oferta, a bilingual newspaper. The editors, Mary and Tatiana Andrade, have been great friends and mentors. After my first assignment of copy-editing, they moved me to covering local politics and interviewing candidates. Then they gave me a column. The column is entitled ‘The Middle Class-Our Engine’ and is dedicated to middle-class Americans. It is also offered in English and Spanish.

“Mary Andrade published my first poem in La Oferta about a year after I started working as a journalist. It was about the death of my mother’s long-time gardener, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico. He was sort of a father figure since my mother was a single mother. To date, I’ve written four collections of poetry. Most of my work centers around what it’s like to be a woman living with an artificially imposed set of societal standards and also describes the hardship of American motherhood without access to childcare and equal rights.

Tell Us about the anthology BASTA!

BASTA! 100+ Latinas Against Gender Violence began in Chile as a movement to create awareness about violence against women. Each anthology is tied to a country and the series continues to make its way around the world. The BASTA! anthology that has been published here in the States contains the short stories of one hundred Latina writers from the U.S. One of those stories is mine. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to be part of Dr. Emma Sepulveda Pulvirenti’s work. She is the editor of the U.S. anthology. Putting this series together highlights the very real issue for women around the world. All proceeds from the book, which was published by the Latino Research Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, go to help organizations addressing violence against women. Dr. Pulvirenti makes no money from sales and neither do any of the writers.”

Do you have any insight or advice for fellow members about your writing process?

“The process for me developed over time. It’s like exercise: if you force yourself to do it and it’s not enjoyable then most likely you will find it hard to continue. So I try to be patient and make it something that is pleasurable. It’s very relaxing to me to write. It’s a way to release tension or answer questions when a writer can disappear into work that has meaning. Also, it shouldn’t matter if someone else appreciates the work or not. Of course, writers like to have readers, but writers should write for themselves first in my opinion. It gives the work meaning. One shouldn’t force writing, instead stick to a schedule that works for that week, month, or year since schedules change. Enjoy the process, then send your work out.

“Currently, I’m working on a book of essays about the lack of affordable childcare in America and how it impacts a typical American family, especially a mother. Poverty is closely tied to the inability to work and if women are responsible for childcare, they have to negotiate a more complicated environment and can’t always work. Throughout history, we have placed a tremendous burden on women to carry the load of childcare and then ask why so many women and children are the poorest demographic and why so much violence. There is simply a lack of introspection in America, and we need to do better.

“The years roll on, and I see how much America is failing mothers and families by overlooking issues like childcare and the significance of diversity. As a longtime journalist, I can safely say that neither policymakers nor major news outlets view childcare as a major issue to address. My questions, as a journalist, related to the issue, too often are met with blank stares, scoffing, or lip service. But addressing the issue means a change in our wellbeing as Americans. Fortunately, La Oferta gives me a lot of leeway, and they have always supported my work.

Hopefully, policymakers and major news outlets will awaken soon to the problem of affordable childcare, as they did to the issue of sexual abuse after the #metoo and #Timesup movement took hold. Sadly, it took the recognition of so many women being abused before speaking out against harassment and sexual abuse became a movement. That’s reactive, not proactive. These movements need to translate into policy and social change. Issues facing mothers and families will continue to be the focus of my work. I’m also wrapping up a collection of short stories about multi-cultural families.”

WNBA-SF Board member Sharon McElhone is a journalist, columnist, and author. She is half Ecuadorian and half Irish and lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and children. She is working on a memoir related to childcare, a novel, and a fourth collection of poems.

Writing a Nonfiction Book? 5 Ideas…

… For Attracting Agents/Editors and Keeping Readers Engaged

Written by Brooke Warner

Brooke Warner, nonfiction writer, coachThe summer of 2017 has been the summer of nonfiction. I’ve read more nonfiction books than I have in a long while and I’ve had an influx of writers coming to me wanting support for their nonfiction works—about relationships, globalization and business, the internalization of negativity, women and power, and, of course, Trump.

I will never profess to anyone that writing a book is easy, but nonfiction writers do have a leg up over their novelist and memoirist peers in that nonfiction can and should be formulaic. It’s all about your table of contents, and if you bang that out on the front end and feel good about the points you’re hitting, you have a strong template to guide you all the way through to the end. Yes, you still have to execute good writing and keep your reader interested in your topic, but there are a few tricks (ie, skills) that you can implement to attract agents and editors—and eventually readers.

1. Give your reader subheads!
Too often, writers I work with submit long excerpts or sample chapters chock-full of good ideas, theories, and expression, but with no breaks! Readers need breaks, and oftentimes line breaks don’t cut it. Subheadings are critical in nonfiction works. They helps you, the writer, break your own ideas into compartmentalized sections. They also keep you more organized and therefore on point. You might have four or five subheads in a given chapter, and the subhead title itself guides the reader toward the points you want to make in that section. It helps keep you and your reader on track, and it gives readers a natural place to break—whether for the purpose of stopping for a while (bookmark!) or digesting what they’ve just read.

2. Let yourself be a character in the broader story
It’s not a rule that the writer be a character in their own nonfiction work, but if you fail to be the trusted guide, you’re going to have a much less readable book. Even if the book is not about you, you need to establish yourself as an authority. You have to tell the reader why you’re writing the book and what qualifies you to be the author. It’s okay if the only qualification you have is curiosity, but if this is the case, you want to pepper stories about yourself throughout the text. Don’t overdo it, of course. I’m not suggesting that your nonfiction work become a memoir. I am suggesting, however, that your reader will be more likely to stay with you if they have confidence in you, and that confidence comes from sharing, being transparent, and inviting the reader into your world (as it connects to the subject matter of your book).

3. Break up the text with other design elements
Nonfiction writers don’t often know that there’s a wide world of extra elements they can include in their writing and in their books to break up the content and highlight certain thoughts and ideas. As a nonfiction writer, you can embrace images, graphs, and callouts, quotes that get pulled from the text and designed into the body of your book, as you’d see in a magazine. You can have sidebars that highlight interviews or recipes or case studies. I love it when nonfiction writers think outside the box. Lately I’ve been seeing listicles as chapters, experimental chapters in which a nonfiction writer might curate a bunch of relevant Tweets. Pay attention to how people consume content. Don’t feel that just because you’re writing a book, you’re bound to continuous text. You’re not, and readers love books that break up the reading experience with interesting internal elements.

4. Don’t be afraid to write a short book
This is a big one, in keeping with the whole notion that people are consuming content differently. The short book is on trend, and more attractive that it was in years past. When I say short, I mean as short as 35,000-40,000 words, not much shorter than that. I’ve seen more and more nonfiction books that are under 200 pages. The design elements I mentioned in point 3 can also lengthen a book that has fewer words. So can wider margins. Let your content pack a punch. Don’t meander or write too superfluously. You can give your reader a good dose of wow in a pretty small package—and in our content-saturated culture, you’ll probably sell more books as a result.

5. Write in your own voice
I come across so many writers who think that because they’re writing nonfiction, they must don their academic writing hat. Nonfiction needn’t be stuffy or rigid. No one sets out to write a boring book, but writers are often plagued by the voices of their long-gone professors. People get caught up in perfectionism and The Rules. Please, people, write how you talk with just a bit more polish and finesse. Have fun with your writing. Don’t be afraid to write in a colloquial style. People aren’t buying books because they want to read academic tomes. If we wanted that we’d go back to school. Be you—and be wary of working with anyone (agents, editors, writing groups or buddies) who insists that formal/grammatically uptight equals better. Not so. Write well, yes, but also be authentically you.

WNBA-SF member Brooke Warner is a writing coaching and professional publishing consultant. She has worked as an acquiring editor in the publishing industry for the past sixteen years, most recently as the Executive Editor at Seal Press. She left Seal Press in May 2012 to pursue the coaching practice and to co-found She Writes Press with Kamy Wicoff, founder of SheWrites.com. Brooke lives and works in Berkeley, California.

The original version of this post appeared on the Huffington Post and is republished here with the author’s permission. 

Writing Mysteries: Is It A Mystery?

Written by M. Glenda Rosen (aka Marcia G. Rosen)

Marcia Rosen, mystery writerWriting a mystery book or series is akin to putting together a puzzle with a thousand pieces. Where should you begin? Do you start the puzzle with the corner and edge pieces, providing details on the main characters including the heroes and criminals? Or do you start in the middle, revealing upfront the murder and complexity of the story plot?

Whether you start with corners, or center pieces, what matters is sticking with your structure and then pacing the plot. You need to keep it moving forward by creating suspense with clues and mysterious happenings.

In the television mystery series, “Columbo,” the murder always took place at the beginning of the story. The seemingly flustered but persistent detective follows various suspects and clues to eventually catch the murderer. In other television mysteries, you follow the path of an ordinary citizen—writer, baker, doctor, librarian, or florist—who is captivated by certain events and incidentally gets involved in solving crimes. These amateurs just can’t seem to help themselves, even when following the clue leads them to danger.

From these types of mysteries known as cozies, to film noir with gangsters and hard-boiled detectives, to terrifying thrillers, mysteries have long appealed to the reader and viewer. As a writer, you can choose your own style, your own way of creating characters and stories of murders and mayhem, and your own way of presenting clues and suspects leading toward solving the crime. Yet, there are certain elements essential to a good mystery, which can take the reader on a fascinating ride through a criminal’s mind and the minds of those who reach into that mind to catch them.

You want your reader to become involved and interested in your story so they follow the clues you leave, and they attempt to solve the crimes along with you. Don’t make it too easy: There should be a number of possible suspects. Enhance the plot with character conflict and red herrings that might confuse and steer the reader away from the real murderer. The bad guy can also lead the reader astray by placing suspicion and blame on someone else.

A good mystery story includes: an intriguing plot, interesting characters (often with unique characteristics), descriptive places and locations that set a mood, interesting and controversial dialogue, clues (real and false) leading to the bad guys (and gals), and a bit of humor. Be clear about your point of view. Is it from the perspective of the main character as in Sue Grafton novels or a third person as in Raymond Chandler mysteries?

Ultimately, you want to be able to explain your characters’ motivation for their criminal behavior. Common sources are anger, hate, power, money and, of course, revenge. Revealing truths, secrets and lies with stories of betrayal and vengeance with surprise endings leave your reading wanting more—especially in a series!

Although you might think it strange, I suggest you ask yourself what your motivation is for writing or wanting to write mysteries. In my mystery series, The Senior Sleuths, the actions of my senior characters, Dick and Dora, often reflect my truths about life and relationships.

I grew up in an unusual, and sometimes outrageous, environment. It wouldn’t take a genius, a psychiatrist, or a palm reader to figure out the genesis of my fascination with crime and criminals. In my series, The Senior Sleuths, Zero the Bookie is a version of my dad, and several other characters are based on a few of his many associates.

Our history and experiences can define us, inspire our actions, and, as writers, impact our words and stories. Mine most definitely have. My father was a small-time gangster. Really! No doubt, thanks to my father, writing mysteries is in my DNA.

Marcia Rosen has previously published four books in her mystery series, “Dying to Be Beautiful.” Rosen is also author of “The Woman’s Business Therapist” and “My Memoir Workbook.” She was founder, and for many years, owner of a successful Marketing and Public Relations Agency, created several radio and TV talk shows, and received numerous awards for her work with business and professional women. She currently resides in Carmel, California. For more information, visit www.theseniorsleuths.com and www.levelbestbooks.com

 

Writing Dialogue in Memoir

Written By Louise Nayer 

Louise NayerUnless you sprint through life with a tape recorder strapped to your body 24/7, dialogue is created by the author through memory. How do you write believable dialogue? Differentiate your mother’s voice, “I feel ill” from your father’s, “I feel like crap”? Keep it short. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct, but does need to capture the quirkiness of the speaker. Use action along with dialogue—tearing up a napkin on your lap to show nervousness, staring out the window to show sadness. In my book Burned: A Memoir, I wrote a scene the morning after my parents were burned in an explosion in the cellar of our Cape Cod rental house. I’m four years old, in the basement of our neighbor’s house with my sister and babysitter, Della.

“Will Daddy take us to the beach today?” I asked Della as she lifted her heavy body off the bed, her red wool sweater spilling onto the cool basement floor. “Will Daddy take us to the beach today?”
“They were hurt—in an accident.” Her face was puffed up and red. I turned away clutching my stomach, an acid taste rising in my mouth.

Along with the dialogue, you learn about what Della looks like and also what I’m physically feeling as a child at that moment—an acid taste in my mouth.

In The Glass Castle right at the beginning, author Jeannette Walls has a scene with her homeless mother. A few days before, Walls was in a taxicab and saw her mother picking through trash. She didn’t stop to say hello.

“You want to help me change my life?” Mom asked. “I’m fine. You’re the one who needs help. Your values are all confused.”
“Mom, I saw you picking through trash in the East Village a few days ago.”
“Well, people in this country are too wasteful. It’s my way of recycling.” She took a bite of her Seafood Delight. “Why didn’t you say hello?”
“I was too ashamed, Mom. I hid.”
Mom pointed her chopsticks at me. “You see?” she said. “Right there. That’s exactly what I’m saying. You’re way too easily embarrassed. Your father and I are who we are. Accept it.”

This excerpt is mostly dialogue, but there are a few places where the reader is grounded in the scene, and knows it’s a restaurant. “She took a bit of her Seafood Delight” and “Mom pointed her chopsticks at me.” The action of the mother pointing her chopsticks at her daughter allows us to see the mother’s personality and also is laced with humor.

Dialogue makes a scene come alive and reveals something more about a character. Look through old letters of people who have passed away to help “channel” their voices. Listen and take notes for people now in your life. Practice by writing down snippets of conversations while sipping your cappuccino. Dialogue moves the story along, revealing what each character wants. But often, as in life, you have to read between the lines.

Louise Nayer has been an author an educator for many years. Burned: A Memoir was an Oprah Great Read and won the Wisconsin Library Association Award. Her most recent book, Poised for Retirement: Moving From Anxiety to Zen is about “emotional planning” for retirement and was written up in Next Avenue and Forbes Magazine. She did 27 radio spots based on the book. She is a member of the SF Writer’s Grotto and has been an educator for over forty years. 

Pitch-O-Rama 2018: Agents & Publishers

Women’s Building

Meet the Agents and Acquisition Editors for Pitch-O-Rama 2018, Saturday, March 31, 8:00 am – 12:30 pm.

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

Whatever your genre, you’ll find an agent or editor to fit your project: from prestigious agencies that represent fiction of all genres, including YA and children’s books, to non-fiction and New Age titles. There are publishers that specialize in eBooks, in hybrid business models, and a non-profit publisher with a local focus. 

This is a stellar line-up! Scroll through the names and bios. But whatever you do, register today! Pitch-O-Rama 2018 is selling out quickly.

Lisa Abelisa-abellera-200llera joined Kimberley Cameron and Associates in 2013 with a background in management, marketing, and finance. Lisa responds to well-crafted prose with strong hooks and high personal stakes, to idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters, to a tangible sense of place, to multicultural aspects and international settings, to page-turning twists, and to emotionally immersive fiction that explores the human condition, especially within family and close relationships. She is seeking to represent upmarket fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery/suspense/thrillers (especially if it has a dose of science or the supernatural), science fiction, fantasy, most speculative fiction except for paranormal fantasy (no demons, angels, vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.), romance if it’s an element or part of another genre, NA, YA and middle grade.

 Charlotte Ashlock is the Executive Editor for Berrett-Koehler Publisher‘s line of nonfiction books for working professionals. She is seeking authors who can write books to help people master key job skills. In particular, she is hunting right now for books on project management and contracting. Her background includes website project management and content marketing as well as six years of editorial experience with business books. 

 Jim Azevedo is the marketing director at Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published ebooks, serving over 130,000 independent authors, publishers, and literary agents. Since 2008, Smashwords has helped authors around the world release more than 470,000 titles and distribute their work globally to top ebook retailers, subscription services and public libraries. Prior to joining Smashwords in 2011, Jim built his career in marketing & PR for high-tech companies. Although Smashwords is a self-publishing platform, Jim loves helping authors sharpen their pitches and book descriptions. He credits his journalism education when it comes to guiding authors, and himself, to “get to the point” with messaging.

 Suzy Evans is a literary agent, attorney, and author who holds a Ph.D. in history from UC Berkeley. In the adult market, she’s looking for narrative nonfiction, history, science, big idea books on controversial social issues, riveting, elegantly-written memoir (recent favorites include Barbarian Days and When Breath Becomes Air), self-help, parenting (bonus points for humor!) and small quirky books that make her smile and think about the world in new and surprising ways. On the children’s front, she’s seeking MG nonfiction, YA fiction that tackles difficult issues in bold, daring ways, and graphic novels that bring history, literature, and fascinating historical figures (think Socrates! Machiavelli! Hamilton!) to life. She’d also love to find a thriller that has “MOVIE!” written all over it. As an author herself, her books include Machiavelli for Moms (Simon & Schuster) and Forgotten Crimes: the Holocaust and People with Disabilities. She’s also a ghostwriter for a #1 New York Times bestselling author with 25 million copies in print and her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Parade, Forbes and The London TimesSandra Dijkstra Literary Agency 

 Georgia Hughes is editorial director at New World Library, publisher of the Joseph Campbell Library and The Power of Now. She acquires and edits nonfiction books in the areas of spirituality, sustainability, animals, business, women’s issues, and personal growth. Recent acquisitions include Spiritual Envy by Michael Krasny, Dreaming the Soul Back Home by Robert Moss, Dogs and the Women Who Love Them by Allen and Linda Anderson, Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee, and The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner. 

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 http://www.larsenpomada.com/.  

 Dorian Maffei began at Kimberley Cameron & Associates as an intern in 2013. She has since become a junior agent and is now actively building a client list of her own. She is interested in magical realism, fabulism, reimagined fairy tales, speculative fiction, literary science fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, unique voices, and innovative storytelling. She values work that provokes a deep-rooted connection after the last page and explores the peculiar within the mundane.

 Laurie McLean, Partner, Fuse Literary, Laurie McLean spent 20 years as the CEO of a publicity agency and 8 years as an agent and senior agent at Larsen Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco. Following her stint as the CEO of a successful Silicon Valley public relations agency bearing her name, Laurie was able to switch gears in 2002 to immerse herself in writing. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the State University of New York and a Master’s Degree at Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School of Journalism. At Fuse Literary, Laurie specializes in adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, suspense, horror, etc.) plus middle-grade and young adult children’s books. 

 Kristen Moeller, MS, is an agent at Waterside Productions, the literary home of Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch, Jean Houston and other luminaries. Previously, she was an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and the executive publisher for Persona Publishing, a self-publishing imprint. With close to 30 years of training and experience in psychology and personal growth, she craves discovering new (mostly female) authors with real and gritty memoir or literary fiction about walking through the fires of life – exploring depths and darkness while maintaining a strong psychological base. A published author and a three time TEDx speaker, she has been featured on NPR, ABC, NBC, Fox News, the New York Times, Huffington Post and Tiny House Nation.

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  

JenniferSoloway 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/

Brooke Warner Brooke Warner is founder and publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of What’s Your Book? and How to Sell Your Memoir. She Writes Press publishes fiction and memoir for women authors and readers. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. She sits on the board of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW). Her website was selected by The Write Life as one of the Top 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014. She lives and works in Berkeley, California. http://www.shewritespress.com

 Gayle Wattawa has worked at Heyday (www.heydaybooks.com), a nonprofit publisher, Berkeley, California, for fourteen years; she is currently the editorial director. Heyday has a forty-four year track record of publishing award-winning books about California. She is interested in acquiring nonfiction (including children’s books) for a general, national audience in the following subjects: social justice, nature, history, and California Indian (with a strong preference for Native authors). Recent Heyday titles include Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufmann, and Our Dishonest President by the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. Heyday is also the publisher of the artist, writer, and naturalist John Muir Laws. For Gayle the most important considerations are passion, great writing and storytelling, wide appeal and accessibility, cultural sensitivity, and relevant expertise. 

 Carlisle Webber, Associate Agent, Fuse Literary, took her love of commercial, YA, and middle grade fiction to the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, where she earned a Master of Library and Information Sciences. She worked as a public librarian for years before deciding to move to the business side of publishing. She attended the Columbia Publishing Course, interned at Writers House, and worked at the Jane Rotrosen Agency in NYC. She considers herself to be an editorial agent and holds a Professional Certificate in Editing from UC -Berkeley. Carlisle is looking for high-concept commercial fiction in middle grade, young adult, and adult. If your book is fresh and exciting, tackles difficult topics, reads like a Shonda Rhimes show, or makes readers stay up late turning pages, she’s the agent for you. Diverse authors are encouraged to submit their fiction. Within the genres she represents, Carlisle is especially interested in stories by and about people of color; with both visible and invisible disabilities and illnesses; who are economically disadvantaged; who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer; or who are members of religious minorities.

 

register-now

Serious Play: Fiction and Storytelling

The Craft of Fiction and the Importance of Storytelling

Saturday, April 21st, 3:00 pm
Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall
Saint Mary’s College, 1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94575

Serious Play 
Authors Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Nayomi Munaweera in conversation with Mary Volmer about the craft of fiction and the global importance of storytelling

The Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter, presents an afternoon conversation with internationally acclaimed authors Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Nayomi Munaweera. Come to hear these two remarkable women discuss the craft of fiction, the global importance of storytelling, and their impressive philanthropic endeavors. Reception to follow.

Sponsored by the Saint Mary’s College of California MFA in Creative Writing. Co-sponsored by the Saint Mary’s English Department, the Intercultural Center, and the Women’s Resource Center.

$15.00 WNBA members, $20.00 non-members (Prepay online, or at the door)
FREE for SMC students with a valid student ID

All proceeds benefit the WNBA-SF and the Saint Mary’s College MFA’s Hedgebrook Scholarship.

BONUS!! 
All who attend Serious Fiction are eligible for “early bird” pricing for Bridging: A One-Day Hedgebrook Writing Retreat with keynote speaker Carolina de Robertis. Offer ends April 25th.

Parking is available and free
Click here for a campus map.
Locate De La Salle Hall to the right of the main entrance.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika, fiction Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and for several years taught literature at San Francisco State University. Sarah currently serves on the boards of Hedgebrook and the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Sarah is a Patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature and Books Editor at ozy.com. Her widely lauded first novel, In Dependence, is required reading in Nigerian schools and her second novel, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, was shortlisted for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize.

Nayomi Munaweera Sri Lankan born author, Nayomi Munaweera immigrated to Nigeria and then to California. Her debut novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, was long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize and the Dublin IMPAC Prize. It was also short-listed for the DSC Prize and the Northern California Book Prize and won the Commonwealth Regional Prize for Asia and a Godage Prize. Her second novel, What Lies Between Us, a book about a Sri Lanka-American, won the Sri Lankan National Book Award for best English novel and the Godage Award for Best English Novel. She teaches at Mills College and at the Ashland University low-residency MFA Program. She holds writing workshops in Sri Lanka through a program called Write to Reconcile in which she co-teaches with legendary Sri Lankan writer, Shyam Selvadurai. Their aim is to use writing as a tool of reconciliation and healing for both Tamil and Sinhala survivors of the civil war.

Mary Volmer is the author of two novels: Crown of Dust (Soho Press, 2010) and Reliance, Illinois (Soho Press, 2016). She has been awarded the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook and she teaches at Saint Mary’s College (CA). 

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Serious Play: Fiction and Storytelling, April 21, 2018

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Spring Break Mixer

Wednesday, April 4th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
WNBA-SF Networking Mixer, featuring a reading and Q & A with Shanthi Sekaran
Saint Mary’s College, 1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94575

Join the WNBA – SF and the Saint Mary’s College MFA program for a night of networking and literary excellence. 

Shanthi Sekaran, spring mixerMeet, greet and eat with fellow WNBA members and potential remember at 6:30 pm in beautiful De La Salle Hall, on the campus of Saint Mary’s College. Then move next door for a reading and Q & A with acclaimed author of Lucky Boy, Shanthi Sekaran.

Click here for a campus map.
Locate De La Salle Hall to the right of the main entrance.

Share your news and personal projects and learn how you can get more involved in the WNBA Centennial Year activities! Bring your business cards to share.

Bring a friend you think would be interested in joining the magical WNBA!

The event is free and open to the public (no need to RSVP). Parking is available and free.

Shanthi Sekaran lives in Berkeley, California. Her latest novel, Lucky Boy, was named an Indie Next Great Read and an Amazon Editors’ Pick. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Canteen Magazine, Huffington Post and Best New American Voices. She’s a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and a Distinguished Visiting Writer in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction at Saint Mary’s College. 

Contact Mary Volmer with any questions: maryvolmer AT gmail DOT com

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Featured Member Interview – Kate Carroll de Gutes

Interview by Nina Lesowitz

Kate Carroll de Gutes, member interviewFrom cappuccinos to creative non fiction: new member Kate Carroll de Gutes shows how persistence pays off in getting published.

“I started working as a journalist—writing feature stories—right out of undergrad, working for magazines and as a stringer for a couple of alternative newspapers. It was good work—and recognized as such—but I was young and idealistic, so I quit to run my own coffee business. In that way that only the young can think, I believed it would give me more time to work on essays, you know, in between steaming milk for cappuccinos.

“Once I left the coffee business, I started teaching and writing again, but this was the late ’80s and I worked primarily on creative nonfiction pieces, and there were few outlets that wanted to publish anything that wasn’t a traditional essay in the style of Montaigne. I shifted my focus to book-length, narrative-driven nonfiction and fiction, found an agent, lost an agent, got rejected (mostly) and published (infrequently). Still, I kept writing creative nonfiction and finally the market caught up to my work. Or I got better at it. Or both.

“The third book I wrote was the first to get published. Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (Ovenbird Books) looks at marriage, and how we learn to be in a relationship by watching our parents’ marriages. The book begins with the end of my marriage, works its way through my life in a reverse chronology, and asks big questions about sexual identity and gender expression, as well as more quotidian ones about the search for the perfect fashion accessory and how to combat hat hair. The book won the 2016 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, the Lambda Literary Award for Memoir, and the Next Generation Independent Publishing Award. So, thirty years after I began writing, I finally knocked it out of the park.”

What was your inspiration for your most recently published title, The Authenticity Experiment?
“I started The Authenticity Experiment: Lessons From the Best & Worst Year of My Life as a writing challenge during July 2015. I wanted to see if I could be completely authentic on social media for 30 days. I think we use social media as our new back fence, a place where we can stand and talk to our ‘neighbors’ about the good and bad of our days. During the middle of the ‘experiment’ my mother died, so the posts naturally talked about that. The writing resonated with a wide audience—in fact, USA Today wrote a story about it—so I kept writing, transitioning to a weekly blog, chronicling the dark and the light, and putting it out there for everyone to see. Now I write twice a month and publish new pieces on www.authenticityexperiment.net.”

What was your process of getting published?
“Both of my book contracts have been very serendipitous. The press that published Objects was founded by the poetry critic and award-winning writer, Judith Kitchen. After several very good rejections—with honest critiques about what the publishers thought worked and didn’t—I took the book apart, threw out 100 pages, and wrote 75 new ones. Right before AWP Seattle 2014, Judith Kitchen asked me for the new manuscript. The sad part of the story is that Judith died two days after finishing her edit on the book. But she’d left detailed notes that I followed. Authenticity Experiment was a similar serendipitous experience. On the floor at AWP LA 2016, the editors of Two Sylvias Press said off-handedly, ‘If you ever want to turn Authenticity Experiment into a book, we’d love to publish it.’

If I have any advice, it’s to knock on doors, use your network, and ask for what you want. That means asking friends to write reviews, host house parties, and talk about your book—authentically, of course—on social media. It means teaching and taking every opportunity that comes along, because you never know who you might meet or who might buy your book from you. Oh, yeah, and you do have a box of books in the back of your car, don’t you? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sold two or three books right out of my trunk to some old friend I’ve run into at a restaurant or on the street.

“I suppose the other bit of wisdom is that nothing changes the day after you’ve won an award. You still have to do the work and not all people will like the work. It’s been just about two years since Ovenbird released the Advanced Review Copies of Objects and I’m finally seeing an uptick in sales and reviews as the book starts to find its way into more libraries and onto bookstores’ radar.”

What are you working on now?
“Every 66 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Since 2000, death from heart disease has decreased by 14% while death from Alzheimer’s has increased 89%! For those of us with parents or partners suffering from Alzheimer’s, the disease often feels like an immediate death sentence. My mother lived for years with the disease and I’m working on a hybrid monster I’m not sure I have my hands around yet. Part memoir, part survival guide, the manuscript intertwines my struggles to manage my mother’s meager retirement income, gain power of attorney, and get her the assistance she needed with practical advice for caregivers and family. I’ve got two agents vying for the proposal—which is a surprising and exciting spot to find myself.”

You can get in touch with Kate via her website: www.katecarrolldegutes.com.