2019 San Francisco Writing for Change Conference

Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Check-in begins at 8:30 am

Event: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
First Unitarian Universalist Center of San Francisco
1187 Franklin Street (at Geary), San Francisco, CA

Please join the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter at the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference where we will have a booth and also be participating in panels on getting published, marketing and writing the perfect proposal and much more!

The keynoter at the 2018 San Francisco Writing for Change will be Brooke Axtell.
She is the Founder and Director of She is Rising, a healing community for women and girls overcoming rape, abuse and sex-trafficking. Through her mentorship programs, retreats and workshops, Brooke helps survivors become leaders. She is passionate about inspiring young women to reclaim their worth and express their power to create a more compassionate world.

At the 11th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference you will discover how what you write can change the world…and how to get your writing published. The theme of the conference is “Writing to Make a Difference,” with topics ranging from business, spirituality, politics, technology, social issues, the environment, culture, the law, and much more.

Check out the latest schedule of sessions at the Change event.
The Writing for Change Conference is devoted to bringing together agents, editors, authors, and publishing professionals in order to enable writers to learn from the experts about writing, publishing, marketing, and technology. You’ll come away knowing how to get your work published successfully, online and off.
You will have the chance to learn from and pitch your book to the presenters, and to get feedback on your work from freelance editors. The conference will include one jam-packed day of workshops, panels and the keynote address. You will leave feeling inspired and enlightened. Please join us for this amazing day.

San Francisco Writing For Change registration includes:

    • Keynote and a full day of sessions
    • A full faculty of presenters–authors, editors, agents, marketing experts
    • Ask-the-Pros round-tables with presenters
    • Feedback on your work from independent editors
    • Networking with speakers and other writers
    • Opportunity to pitch your book to agents and editors

This Conference will be limited to 100 attendees.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR 2018! Click here to register today 

This event is presented by the San Francisco Writers Conference and San Francisco Writers Foundation.  We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to help writers get their work published and to support all forms of  writing and written communication.

For sponsorship and marketing opportunities, contact us at info@sfwriters.org.

Tweet Success – I

Written By Cathy Turney 
with significant input from Cynthia Rubin, BestEditorEver

Cathy Turney, Tweet successIf you think Twitter is basically for the birds, I was once like you. Actually, as a child I had a succession of blue parakeets I faithfully nurtured that then mysteriously dropped dead—a portent of things to come? Recently, though, after spending countless dollars to promote my real estate tell-all humor book (with so-so results), my social media guru said: “You need 10,000 Twitter followers.”

Speaking as a right-brain creative technophobe, I was…speechless. I had collected 200 followers, and that had been a struggle. But if I couldn’t do better on Twitter, the alternative was to sign every paycheck from my day job over to marketing companies. Well, I sweated bullets and found workarounds—strategies that made me able to navigate Twitter and draw a big flock. Easy strategies that other right-brain Luddites, as well as the technologically gifted, can also use to make their writing soar into the Twittersphere.

And I think you might want to hear about those methods, if Brenda Knight, WNBA-SF’s MostExaltedPresident, is any barometer, which she is! At an WNBA meet-and-greet event at the Hotsy Totsy Club (“best happy hour in the East Bay!”), as I started to float another new book idea, she said, “Tell us about how you got 10,000 Twitter followers—that’s what we really want to hear about!” And just like that, my next book took flight.

Here are a few tips to show how you too can capitalize on Twitter. You don’t even have to buy my Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly, Ethically! But if you do, of course, you’ll have my undying love and free technical support (right-brain version) forever.

Tip #1: Banner Content
Twitter success begins with amassing a large flock. People infer your “relevance” by the size of your following. To get followers, we need to engage and follow, follow, follow others. But how do you do that? The first step is to create an appealing banner, aka header, for your Twitter page with images that make it look like it would be interesting and uplifting to follow you.

Unruffle those feathers! You do not need to create the banner yourself. There are several services (I used Fiverr.com) that will do it for you for about $25, and the result will fit Twitter’s size parameters. If you’ve authored a book, include a picture of it. Don’t worry if you don’t have a book—it won’t be conspicuous by its absence; just tell the designer you want some graphics indicating that you write.

In my instructions to Fiverr I said I needed a colorful, upbeat Twitter banner that would attract book lovers, business people, and those wanting positive, inspiring quotes. The more avocations or interests you display in your banner, the more diverse a follower base you’ll attract. If you need ideas, look up other authors’ Twitter pages and see what they did.

Tip #2: Easily Target Those Who Want to Hear What You Have to Say
Many people will follow you back simply because they like your banner. But the key to exponentially bettering those odds is to target people who share your interests. If I want to promote my real estate book, I simply do a hashtag search for “real estate,” and Twitter shows me recent tweets from thousands of people about real estate. I follow the first several hundred people, and in a matter of minutes I’ve essentially invited them to follow me back. On a typical day, this step yields 30 to 100 follow-backs.

[Come back next week for the second part of Cathy’s post]


Cathy Turney is a member of WNBA-SF. Her book Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success won the American Business Association Stevie Award for Best Business Book of the Year 2015. Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly, Ethically was published in 2017. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, tweets at @CathyTurneyLafs and blogs at www.CathyTurneyWrites.com

The 2019 Effie Lee Morris Lecture Series Celebrates Women Writers

Join the San Francisco Public Library Main Children’s Center this fall as we present two lectures celebrating the voices of two gifted female authors and honoring the work of Effie Lee Morris (1921 – 2009), the first coordinator of children’s services at SFPL.

Ms. Morris, a tireless champion for diversity in children’s literature and in children’s lives, was the first African-American president of the Public Library Association, and a co-founder of the SF chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.

On Thursday, September 5, Renee Watson, the Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of the young adult novel Piecing Me Together, and of the new middle grade novel Some Places More Than Others, will deliver the 23rd Effie Lee Morris Lecture.

On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, F. Isabel Campoy, the International Latino Children’s Book Award-winning author of the picture book Maybe Something Beautiful, and the Spanish-language translator of Mo Willems’ “Elephant and Piggie” books, will deliver the 24th Effie Lee Morris Lecture.

Both lectures will start at 6 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium, and will be followed by book-signings with the authors. The events are free and open to the public of all ages.

The Effie Lee Morris Lecture Series is presented with the generous support of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and the SF chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. This annual lecture honors the work of the late Effie Lee Morris by celebrating the work of writers and illustrators for children whose work exemplifies the causes she championed: inclusivity, diversity, and the rights of all children to read, learn, and create. Ms. Morris was the first coordinator of children’s services at SFPL, the first African-American president of the Public Library Association, and a founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA).

About the Lecturers:
Renee Watson is the recipient of a Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor award for her young adult novel Piecing Me Together. Her other acclaimed books include the picture books Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, about the time Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Her new book for middle grade readers, Some Places More than Others, will be published in September 2019.

Renee is also an activist and teacher who helps young people deal with personal and societal trauma. She has served as a writer in residence in schools and community centers nationwide. She launched the #LangstonsLegacyCampaign in 2016, purchasing poet Langston Hughes’ historic Harlem brownstone with the goal of developing it into a collective artists’ space. 

Renee Watson

Learn more about Renee here: http://www.reneewatson.net/about

In the second lecture in this year’s series, we will welcome author and educator F. Isabel Campoy on Wednesday, October 2.

The Effie Lee Morris Lecture series is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 415-557-4554 or see their website.

Tweet Success – II

Written By Cathy Turney 
with significant input from Cynthia Rubin, BestEditorEver

Cathy Turney, Tweet success[This is the second part of Cathy’s post. Read the first part here.]

Tip #3: Choose a Memorable Handle
By memorable, I mean easy to remember and identify (vs. too clever). On Twitter you have two names. First is your real name—the one your parents gave you (or you changed to your own liking). Twitter asks for that when you set up your account. But! They limit you to 20 characters. (I’m sure future parents will keep that in mind when they give birth.) So if your real name is longer than 20 characters you’ll need to shorten it without disguising it so much that people can’t find you.

Your other name is your “handle” which begins with an @ and is also known as your username. Your handle can be up to 15 characters, not including the @ sign. Here’s where you can be creative, but I caution you to still try to make yourself easy to identify. You are searchable by either of these two names, but the @ name is yours and yours alone so that, for instance, there’s no confusion if someone searches for Mary Jones, of whom there are dozens.

If you want to change your handle or account name later, you can do it at any time and still keep all your followers.

Tip #4: Incentivize Yourself!
Twitter is a quick way to stay up-to-the-minute on world events. Something exciting at the United Nations? Just search #United Nations, and you’ll hear about it firsthand. Want to know what’s going on at WNBA-SF? Just search “#WNBASF.” And do click “follow” once you get there because WNBA-SF is so follow-worthy!

Tip #5: Stumped About What to Say?
To be deemed follow-worthy by large numbers, you also need to tweet regularly—to inspire, support, and engage. Yikes! Who has time to do that, plus write the great American novel or go-to nonfiction book? I use a program called Social Jukebox, which only costs a few dollars a month. It automatically posts quotes and images that are so wonderful they even inspire me! I’ve actually had babies following me, it’s so great!


Cathy Turney is a member of WNBA-SF. Her book Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success won the American Business Association Stevie Award for Best Business Book of the Year 2015. For more tips and lots of screenshots, read Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly, Ethically, published in 2017. A contributor to Huffington Post, Turner tweets at @CathyTurneyLafs and blogs at www.CathyTurneyWrites.com

How to Stay Sane When Your Book is Published

How to Stay Sane When Your Book is Published

by Nita Sweeney

The hotel carpet itched the back of my neck as I lay on the floor with my eyes closed. To persuade my back muscles to relax, I’d folded my legs in the Egoscue Method “static back press” across the seat of the stiff armchair and noticed my breath go in and out.

The morning before, our Dead Runners Society (DRS) group ran four miles through the Amish countryside of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. We dodged buggies and horse manure while enjoying views of white board fences, white-washed barns, bearded men, and dress-clad women toting tidy children.

That afternoon, twenty people gathered at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania bookstore to hear me talk about my running and mental health memoir. A few minutes into my presentation, a friend appeared. She had driven an hour and a half—one way—and I had to stop reading to clear the tears from my throat before I could continue. I signed book after book. My face hurt from smiling. After the audience dispersed, the store asked me to autograph ten more books. I thanked them profusely. I would have gladly stayed all day.

The next morning, our DRS clan ambled through the rolling hills across several covered bridges. I stopped to snap an Instagram photo of an immaculate farm in the open countryside and let my insides expand with warm sensations.

When I was a little girl, I loved books so much that I dreamed of writing my own. In May 2019, Mango Publishing made that dream come true by releasing my first book, the memoir Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink. The months since had been filled with book tour joy. Interviews. Blue skies. Packed readings. Emerald green fields. Expo and workshop appearances. Two or three puffy clouds. Podcasts. Good friends.

Standing in the Pennsylvania countryside, I savored this rare bit of calm amid the book promotion frenzy—my new “normal.”

Then I turned to rejoin the group, and my back went out.

Hours later, as I sprawled on the hotel floor, my spine now a sideways “s-curve,” I stifled a giggle (between curses) since laughter would surely send my back into another excruciating spasm.

“Welcome to the glamorous life of the published author!” I thought.

In Thunder and Lightning, best-selling author, Natalie Goldberg issues a “Warning.” She says, “I have not seen writing lead to happiness in my friends’ lives.” If I were to warn writers, I would simply ask them to expect the reality to be a bit different from the dream.

At times, being published is such a high (seeing 31 holds on 16 copies of my book in the local library). Other times, the low is stunning (writhing on the floor of that hotel room). While bipolar disorder mood swings always punctuate my life, the ups and downs of book promotion required me to add tools to my already brimming tool kit. That’s how I wound up lying on the floor with my legs on a chair. I needed more tools.

Exactly how does a compulsive person who desperately seeks outside affirmation stay sane after her book is published? Here are my suggestions, in no particular order: 

Cultivate Your Inner Cheerleader:

Talking to oneself is a hallmark of the writing profession. It helps to develop a sense of humor and an inner cheerleader capable of shaking pom poms at every tiny victory. Said pom poms may also work as magic wands to ward off painful moments.

Expect Happiness to be Stressful:

A friend reminded me that too much of a good thing can also cause stress. She didn’t go so far as to say I had brought this on myself by pursuing every possible promotion avenue all at the same time. She didn’t need to. I’d been thinking it for weeks.

Don’t Drown:

“What’s it like?” a friend asked, referring to my teensy bit of new-found, low-level fame. “Like drinking tasty liquid from a fire hose,” I quipped. Imagine your wildest dream coming at you at 175 gallons per minute. Lovely. Fabulous. Nearly enough to drown in. My back knew I wouldn’t stop on my own. It stopped for me. I recommend you stopping yourself.

Stop Raising the Bar:

Stop moving the goal. In racing, a coach will tell you to “run through the line.” A runner looks beyond the goal while she finishes. But if you suffer from chronic depression and have compulsive tendencies, it’s best to stay focused on the thing at hand. Right here. Right now. We’ve all heard the saying. But that is what needs to be done. Trying to get on a podcast? Contact the podcast host before you start thinking about which book should be next.

Invest in Self-Care and Other-Care:

That husband? He needs a kiss. That dog? She needs a walk. You? You might need to go for a run or take a nap or eat a vegetable or go to bed earlier or log off social media or leave your phone at home. If you let it (and have compulsive tendencies) your book promotion ambitions will suck you dry and pull you away from everyone you love. Push back. Take care of yourself. No one will force you to rest.

Expect to be Tired:

This is hard work. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You really don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll have to learn as you go and ask for help. If you find yourself whining, remind yourself that a million other authors would give anything to be in your shoes. Then, go find a trusted friend to whine to (or scream with) in private.

Embrace Confusion:

Ask stupid questions. Don’t apologize. If you screw up, thank your publisher, editor, friends, family, and everyone else for their patience. This IS your first rodeo. You can’t learn to cope with something until you’re actually going through it. If you’re not already in therapy or on medication, this might be a good time to consider it.

Stop Checking Your Book’s Rank:

Stop grasping. It causes suffering. Sit still. Be with it. Be where you are. But wait, you ask. Don’t I have to go after what I want? Don’t I need to grab and grip and push and pull? No. Do the work. Follow all the leads. Ask for the opportunities. Meanwhile, develop a quiet place inside yourself where none of it matters. Meditate. Chant. Light candles. Trust the process. Trust YOUR process. You will find the right way. Compulsive checking of your book’s ranking gives you the illusion of control. Sorry, but you can only do the work; you can’t predict the outcome.

Push your edges, but not too hard:

This may seem to contradict my earlier advice, but you have to try scary things. Push your edges, just not to the point that you burn out. You don’t know how to make a PowerPoint since you haven’t had a day job since 1994? Find someone (your husband perhaps) to teach you. Then make one and practice (or, as in my case, wing it) and knock it out of the park. Do your best.

Embrace Your Audience:

Not everyone will love your book. Friends you thought would adore your book will not, while random strangers will fawn over it and say you climbed into their minds. Love them all.

Expect Questions:

Now that you’ve written a book, you’re an expert—in everything—in things completely unrelated to your book! People will flock to you for advice. People will ask you questions you can’t answer. People will not want to pay for these answers. Or, they would love to pay you, but you will not have the time to let them. Admit your uncertainty. Authenticity is contagious.

Expect Jealousy:

When the books of friends, acquaintances, and strangers receive reviews, awards, placement on high profile lists, mentions, and other successes, notice if you feel envy. You might feel a sinking in your stomach and a burning in your throat. If you know the author, congratulate her. She did the work; she deserves the glory. And be prepared for the opposite—others might envy your book’s success. Allow yourself to savor your glory even when others don’t.

Remember Your Purpose:

What was your original goal? Why did you want this in the first place? What did you think would happen? Chances are, in the midst of being blasted by loveliness, you have forgotten. 

Reclaim the Joy:

This may have sounded like an ungrateful rant. But it’s my truth. To counter the days when I forget why I’m here, I have developed a delicious practice. I spend five minutes, every day, holding my book. I take her in my hands and clutch her to my chest. I stare at her lovely cover. I read each blurb out loud. And I run my finger over my name. MY NAME. Then I croon, “Aren’t you just the loveliest thing ever?” I like to think she enjoys it as much as I do.

I’m home now and my back has almost returned to normal. While I would have preferred not to limp like a hunchback for two weeks, I took the experience as a wake-up call to rein in my stress, amp up the self-care, and refocus my efforts. 

I hope you don’t wind up lying on the itchy carpet of a hotel room far from home. But if you do, call me. We can laugh (and cry) together.


Nita Sweeney is the author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, which was short-listed for the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. Her articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in magazines, journals, books, and blogs including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, The Taos News, Spring Street, Pencil Storm, WNBA-SF, It’s Not Your Journey, and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, Bum Glue, publishes the monthly e-newsletter, Write Now Columbus, and coaches writers in Natalie Goldberg style “writing practice.” Nita has been featured widely across media outlets about writing, running, meditation, mental health, and pet care. She was nominated for an Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award and her poem, “Memorial,” won the Dublin Arts Council Poet’s Choice Award. When she’s not writing or coaching, Nita runs and races. She has completed three full marathons, twenty-seven half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than eighty shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and their yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).

Mixing It Up at the Mechanics Institute Library: August 16th WNBA-SF Gala

top view looking down spiral staircase at Mechanics Institute Library, San FranciscoFriday, August 16, 2019, 2pm to 4 pm
57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104 
4th Floor, Chess Room (Free to Public, refreshments available)

Please join WNBA-SF members and friends for a get together at the beautiful beaux arts building in downtown San Francisco. Start the weekend off right with members of both our Women’s National Book Association Chapter as well as Mechanics Institute Library, and more!

It’s a MIXER, so bring a literary friend or two to join the fun. We appreciate our members and would love for you to join us so we can hear your about how 2019 is going so far for you. We’d love to hear about books you have read, articles you are writing, books you are publishing, events you are promoting, or libraries and literary causes you support. We’ll all take a moment to introduce ourselves to the group and, if you want to bring a book you have written, please do show and tell!

This event will take place right after the lecture “A Novel Plan,” https://wnba-sfchapter.org/author-lunch-art-of-outlining-fiction/ where WNBA-SF writers share tips and inspiration on crafting fiction. We’ll offer librations and snacks to share and, in addition to the novelists, you can meet some of the judges of our writing contest! https://wnba-sfchapter.org/2019-bay-area-writers-contest/

Let us know if you’re coming and if you’re bringing guests by filling out this short RSVP form. Carpools and rides arranged upon request.

How Personal is Too Personal?

An extract from Heart, Sass & Soul: Journal Your Way to Inspiration and Happiness By by Greta Solomon

The lowdown on online sharing 

Whether you resonate with the term or not, the fact is that we’re living in the age of authenticity. And personal sharing, in some form or another, has become a prerequisite for writers and authors. However, it can be a minefield when it comes to sharing personal stories online. 

It can be difficult to know how much to share. And many of us end up in a push-pull dance of being seen and unseen – we can alternately share too much and too little. My philosophy is that we need to resist the temptation to overshare. We can connect without putting all the pieces of ourselves OUT THERE. And in doing so, we prevent ourselves from becoming addicted to trading fear, pain and suffering for likes, comments, shares and follows. 

If a story makes you cry while you’re telling it, then I believe it’s too soon to tell it publicly. This is quite different from feeling all the feelings while writing and releasing tears through catharsis. And it’s also different from feeling nervous to hit publish because you feel vulnerable. ONLY YOU truly know what’s right for you and your wellbeing. 

Once a client came to me for a mini writing coaching session, where we explored her personal story. She wanted to use it in a talk she was giving to an organisation the following week. She told me an incredibly personal story, that moved her to tears. And then she admitted that she hadn’t told it to anyone before – not even her husband. But yet, she was willing to share it with a group of strangers. I explained to her that I thought the story was too raw to be shared publicly, and that she needed to properly process it. And if, in the future, she did decide to share it publicly, she needed to first tell her husband and those closest to her, as it was so sensitive and personal. 

And that’s the thing with intimacy. Sometimes it can be easier to talk to a stranger than the people closest to us. Usually a (non-therapist) stranger who won’t hold you accountable. They won’t really unpick the issues, and there’s virtually no chance of them now viewing you in a different light.  A stranger doesn’t know you anyway, and so judgement is often suspended. 

Once, at a blogging conference, I saw two women read out blog posts that made them cry. Their emotions were incredibly powerful, and they filled the room. But afterwards, I felt sad for them. I worried for their mental health, and what kind of support they had then and there, when they had just unpicked the scabs that were over their temporary healing. Their reading session was the last item on the agenda before everyone departed for a boat party. And I wondered how safe-footed they would feel, literally floating the night away when they were so ungrounded in their own personal power. 

This freeing feeling can become addictive. But it’s not real, and I don’t believe that it’s the true purpose of creative self-expression. We’ve got more work to do than that. Our stories need to be grounded in our lives, because we want to use them to make changes in our lives, not as an escape mechanism before we return to the same humdrum existence. 

The criteria for sharing isn’t just about the topic; or how personal it is; or who it involves. It’s also about whether you are sufficiently healed to tell it without wincing–so that you don’t have to pull off the plaster at all because the skin is healed. There may be a scar, maybe even an angry, red, raw one. But a scar indicates healing and for me that’s a great barometer for protecting yourself online.

So, what should you write about? 

The first thing to remember is that personal stories can be both light and dark. And don’t over-think or fall into analysis paralysis over what to write. You can and ought to write about anything and everything. It’s not an exam, and you don’t have to pick a niche, or make a business case for what you post. Just write. And make it as trivial or as serious as you like. Can’t think of anything? What was the last conversation you had with your hairdresser, best friend, or the lady on the checkout at the supermarket? Write about that. The things you think and talk about are the things you need to write about. 

When should you write? 

The key thing to know here is that you don’t need to be ‘in the mood’, and you don’t have to always rely on creative inspiration. Writing can be true and heartfelt, even when it’s carefully crafted and not divined from the skies. 

Creative inspiration is just one way to write a blog, or social media post. This is about getting yourself into an inspired state by walking, showering, chopping vegetables and doing other activities to switch off your conscious brain and activate your artist’s brain. 

For instance, a couple of years ago, I went to Vogue House in London to meet the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful. He had agreed to meet 100 people to do a meet-and-greet and sign special hardback copies of his inaugural issue of Vogue. For a magazine junkie like me, it was an incredibly exciting experience. That night, buoyed by the amazing day I’d had, a blog post, which I later published in the Huffington Post just flowed out of me. I was in the right ‘state’ to write an entire piece, which I only edited for typos and minor style later. 

A couple of weeks later, a friend asked me what I thought Meghan Markle’s then-engagement to Prince Harry meant for black people. She asked me this via email, and by answering her questions, I saw I had the germ of a blog post. 

This is another way you can write. By getting someone to ask you questions and by writing down your answers and then piecing them together. You don’t even need another person to question you, in fact. Write down the questions that spark your curiosity and then answer them. 

The third way of writing is to piece together all the information, thoughts and ideas you have–a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle. In this method, you write down everything you can think of, in any order and then get a pair of scissors and cut up all the sections. And then you piece them together based on how you think they best fit. Get some sticky tape and play around with this. You can also colour code all the similar sections. So that you find it easier to find which bits need to go where. So, if you were writing about leadership at work, you could colour code all the facts in orange and all the examples in green and then the quotes in blue–and, so on.  

The act of putting your personal words out there is amazingly transformative. Each time you share, you grow just a little bit more. And if you’re a professional writer, having a personal blog can support your career.

For me, a blog is a boat that a writer can rest in as they charter the choppy seas. Magazine pieces may be killed, or that amazing start-up you wrote for may suddenly go under, leaving your invoice unpaid. But if you have a personal creative blog–essentially, it’ll be for you. Sure, people will read it but it’s your agenda, free from editorial guidelines or style guidelines. You are the editor-in-chief, the publisher and content creator. And as a writer it’s liberating to have a vehicle that puts you in charge of your creative destiny. 

If you liked this extract, you’ll love Heart, Sass & Soul: Journal Your Way to Inspiration and Happiness. It’s full of writing exercises, tips, techniques and food for thought to inspire you to fully express yourself in writing, and in life.


Greta Solomon is a British journalist turned writing coach and the author of two books about writing. Her latest book is Heart, Sass & Soul: Journal Your Way to Inspiration and Happiness. In 2006, she discovered a talent for helping people overcome the blocks, fears and shame that stops them from fully expressing themselves. Through talks, workshops and online programs, she teaches real-world writing techniques and inspires others to live rich, full lives. Her work has been featured in Forbes.com, Writers Digest, Kindred Spirit and The Numinous. She is a published poet and songwriter, a psychology graduate, certified life coach, trained lifelong learning teacher and holds a specialist certificate in lyric writing from Berklee College of Music. She lives in London with her husband and their daughter. Visit www.gretasolomon.com to find out more.

Featured Literary Agent – Jennifer March Soloway

Interview by Susan Allison

Most of our feature-articles have focused on women authors and their journeys from early writing experience to publication. In this article we are able to glimpse another part of the publishing world through the life and words of literary agent, Jennifer Soloway.  

Jennifer March Soloway is an associate agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Although she specializes in children’s literature, Jennifer also represents some adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and psychological horror. Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking new voices and fresh perspectives underrepresented in literature. 

When asked how she became a literary agent, Jennifer responds, “My path to agenting is a little different from many other agents. I studied journalism in undergrad and then went on to work in public relations and marketing in a number of industries, including banking, health care, and toys, and except for the banking, there was always a focus on kids.  When I worked for the toy company, I managed all the public relations, wrote and produced their catalog, and ran their annual kid inventor contest. I was also the toy inventor liaison, which meant several times a year I would travel around the country to meet with toy inventors, who would pitch their toy ideas to me. It was the coolest job!

Selling an invention to our company was tough. We had a very strong internal design team, and we almost never bought outside ideas, so it was difficult to place with us. But every once in a while, I would find an invention that was perfect for our new line. It was my job to then negotiate the terms and the contract with the inventor. Sounds a bit like agenting, doesn’t it? 

About that time, though, I had always loved literature—especially YA—and I wanted to give writing a try. I quit my job and got a MFA in English and Creative Writing with an emphasis on young adult literature. Then I was introduced to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency at the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop, and on a whim, I applied to be Executive Agent Laura Rennert’s assistant. I was still thinking about going back into marketing, but the more I assisted Laura, the more I loved the work. I was her assistant for three and a half years and then was promoted to become an agent in mid-2016. I love this job. It’s been an exciting ride!”

Jennifer’s enthusiasm for agenting is palpable as she exudes, “I find the publishing industry fascinating. I enjoy reviewing contracts and thinking strategically on behalf of the clients. I love writing pitches and connecting with editors. I even like reviewing royalty statements. Most of all, I love editorial. It gives me great joy to help writers find their story. I love to champion others. Perhaps the best part is when I get to tell a client they’re going to be published.”

Even though Jennifer loves being an agent, she also has experienced challenges in her profession as well as changes over the years. “There is a lot of rejection in this business at every level, and agents get rejected all the time, too. It’s frustrating when a terrific project doesn’t sell right away. However, I don’t get discouraged; in fact, just the opposite. Every time I get a rejection, I see it as an opportunity to learn more about the market and what works or doesn’t. If I am lucky enough to get feedback, I then have the opportunity to strategize next steps.” Jennifer laments that there are fewer and fewer bookstores, noting that the big chains like Borders have closed. She adds that people are still buying books and reading, but the sales channels have changed.

In terms of advice for women writers, Jennifer becomes specific, and offers helpful guidance for everyone, from beginning writers to a seasoned authors:

Authors deserve quality service from an agent, but not all author needs are the same. Consider what you are looking for in an agent:

  • Do you want an experienced agent with a strong deal track record and lots of best-selling clients? Or would you consider working with a newer agent with less experience but perhaps more time to devote to your projects? 
  • Do you want a big agency with many resources, or a smaller boutique agency that might offer customized service?
  • Are you looking for an agent who will work with you editoriallyWhat communication style works best for you?
  • Go to writing conferences where you can meet agents. Attend their sessions. Read interviews. Listen to podcasts. Follow them on social media. Who seems like a good fit? Why?
  • When querying, be professional and research your options. Follow submission guidelines for each agency. Many have different requirements and are fairly strict about submissions. Some agencies allow writers to resubmit if a step was missed, but many agents, especially those who already have a full client list, will not accept anything that doesn’t follow their guidelines.
  • Most importantly, believe in yourself and don’t give up. Agents reject projects for many reasons—changing trends in the market; because they already have something similar on their list; because they know of similar published or forthcoming titles; because something isn’t right for them; because although something may be strong, well-written and even publishable, they didn’t fall in love with it. A rejection doesn’t mean your project won’t sell.”

I commented to Jennifer that today’s projects seem to be more promotion driven and writers must do the driving. She responded with a positive message, “Number one is to write a terrific book that people want to read. I also think a strong, positive platform is always a plus. Some of our clients write articles and op-ed pieces for media that relate to the topic of their book, which helps to build name recognition, etc. It also helps to do bookstore events. Even if no one shows up to a reading, the author can still sign copies and connect with the booksellers, who might hand-sell their book to customers.”  

It is clear that Jennifer is passionate about being an agent, and is also so supportive of women writers. She ends her interview with these inspiring words, “Don’t give up! Keep writing. Keep revising. Keep querying. Allow yourself to experience the process and make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. Celebrate and enjoy your victories, the large and the small. Best of luck!”

Jennifer is actively building her client list and welcomes queries via http://QueryMe.Online/JenniferMarchSoloway.

To learn more about Jennifer, follow her on Twitter, @marchsoloway, and find her full wish list at www.andreabrownlit.com.

The Practice and Potential of Journaling

By Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley, author of The Gift of Crisis​ (October 2018)

I have been writing in journals since I was in the fourth grade. 

Now years later, every once in a while, I re-read entries from my elementary, middle and high school years. It is nothing less than comical to read about the petty trivialities which consumed my thoughts. However, it is also refreshing to know that writing was (and continues to be) the invaluable practice through which I cultivated a rich inner world of self-reflection and inquiry through the simple act of writing down my observations, concerns and aspirations in journals.

From childhood journals, travel, pregnancy, gratitude, meditation and daily thought journals, I have gained tremendous insight into my beliefs and emotional patterns — good and not so good.

Journaling has been instrumental in my life. 

Here are a few ways the benefits of journaling can be instrumental in your life and possibly lead to unexpected an outcome:

1. Clarify intentions

When you use your journal to write down your goals, you can revisit your intentions — your why’s: 

  • Why do you want something? 
  • Why are you doing what you’re doing? 
  • Why is this the thing you must do beyond other things?

2. Witness progress and personal growth

If you make journaling a regular habit, you can see how much progress or growth you’ve made by revisiting previous entries. You can see patterns — behavioral, mental and emotional — to glean insight.

Reading through journal entries provides valuable insight into your thought process and emotional life. You can look back and see how you’ve dealt with important decisions and challenging situations to feel more confident in your ability to do so again.

3. Gain self-confidence

You can feel proud looking back at the challenges you faced and seeing how far you’ve come.

4. Improve writing and communication skills

“Writing, like anything, improves with practice. When you journal every day, you’re practicing the art of writing. And if you use a journal to express your thoughts and ideas, it’ll help improve your overall communication skills.”

5. Reduce negative rumination

When things happens that we don’t like, there is a tendency to constantly replay or obsess over negative situations. Even when things go well, we tend to ruminate on the one negative thing that happened. 

Rumination rarely offers new insights. It can even make the present situation feel worse. But if you take some time to write out how you’re feeling, it can help you relinquish the attachment to ruminating over what was said or done. Writing down how you feel provides an opportunity for you to be honest with yourself. It provides a safe and private space to reveal something to yourself that you may not be ready to reveal to someone else.

6. Mindfulness

In 2005, during a disturbing turn of events, my husband was hospitalized due to the onset of symptoms for a stroke. He was 33 years-old. In every way imaginable we were unprepared to deal with the long term effects of the challenges that lie ahead. The financial distress, parental responsibility, unexamined emotional wounds, blame, resentment, fear and anger unearthed elements of our psyche that nearly destroyed us and our marriage. 

The loss of his ability to work propelled us into the beginning stage of what became the most prolonged and difficult period of our lives. For the next several years, we experienced the devastating loss of our home through foreclosure, ruptured familial relationships, job loss and a steady decline of our marriage.
 
Throughout this period there were times when I believed myself to be the victim. It wasn’t until I turned to meditation, prayer and journaling to make it through each day and began sincere self-examination, that I was ready to understand the circumstances provided an invitation for growth.

For more than one year, I sat down in a meditative state to ask questions to help me mentally and emotionally navigate the difficult and uncertain times I faced. 
 
During meditation, in addition to periods of silence after prayer, I began to ask questions to solicit clarity and guidance into my awareness. The more I posed questions during a meditative state, I began to notice answers would indeed come into my awareness. However, as soon as the meditation session was over, I forgot the guidance which came into my awareness. The only way to remember was to write it down. It was at that time I decided to bring a journal to my meditation sessions. 

In the midst of this silent struggle, I turned within to for at least 20 minutes per day to be able to make it through each day. I continued to meditate and write in my journal. Meditation grew to become the most practical, accessible and effective way I found to calm myself of the anxiety-ridden thoughts that propelled me.

At the time, I had no idea the journals I kept would become a book almost seven years later. 

7. Strengthen memory

Even the simple act of writing something down lets your brain know you want to remember it. That’s why note-taking is such an effective practice when learning something new.

Here are a few different types of journaling options to consider:

Stream of consciousness: 

Write down your thoughts as they happen. The words and thoughts don’t need to make sense, you’re simply writing them down to “empty them out.” 

I used this with my son when he had difficulty writing a poem for homework. He was so worried about writing the poem that I suggested first writing down everything that was in his mind at the time. He didn’t know what to do with my suggestion as it felt foreign to him. I repeated it at least three times until it was clear — no grammar, spelling or concerns about ideas, just get the words onto the paper and out of your head to release what’s inside.

Afterwards he threw the paper away without letting me looking at it, which was perfectly fine. Then, he was able to relax around the idea of writing the poem.

This is similar to Julia Cameron’s exercise The Morning Pages as outlined in The Artists Way.

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

Dream journal: 

This is one of my favorite journaling practices because the dream state offers incredible insight into the subconscious. 

“Dreams are one of the few ways we have to see into our unconscious, to understand what is beneath the surface of our limited outer consciousness. The subconscious mind is like a bird high above the road we are traveling, it can see more than our outer mind. The more we learn to recall and understand dreams, the better we understand our deeper motivations, fears, desires, and unconscious knowing. Edgar Cayce once said that nothing occurs in our lives that is not first foreshadowed in our dreams!”

Gratitude journal: 

Before going to sleep, make a list of everything you were thankful for that day, week, or month. 

In Wishes Fulfilled the late Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote about the importance of the last five minutes of the day, just prior to going into a long restful sleep. 

“These precious pre-sleep moments can be utilized by either reviewing all of the things in your life which make you unhappy, frustrated and anxious, or they can be used to program your subconscious mind with thoughts of joy, kindness, gratitude and anticipation of having your wishes fulfilled.”

Sketch journal: 

Express your feelings, thoughts, and ideas through illustrations, doodles, or sketches. Michel Rae Varisco’s artwork is a wonderful example of the power of sketch journaling. 

Here is an excerpt of Michel’s story:

“In 2011, my husband, Steve Gleason, was diagnosed with ALS. We were both 34. It’s a paralyzing, terminal illness with 2–5 year life expectancy. Yet, with the choice of ventilation (a trache), a person can continue living for years, with 24 hour care.

The months surrounding the ‘trache’ surgery began a period in my life I call ‘the dark ages.’ The grief was relentless. Fear, anxiety, confusion all consumed me. The idea of tomorrow frightened and depressed me. I felt such sadness for the loss of a life that was supposed to be. I felt mental and physical exhaustion, heartbreak, guilt, shame, resentment. 

At one point during this time I came across an old sketch pad with a single drawing on it (called One). I brought it along with some pencils to the hospital during one of the surgeries. 

There it began. 

Drawing provided an escape for the pain. It enabled me to sit in one place for hours and feel contentment and peace for the first time in a long time. And it was exciting that I liked what I was drawing. It felt so good to feel proud of something again. The momentary relief of the crazy mind was exhilarating. My drawings started changing into things I didn’t understand. Like a different language. I feel like what I couldn’t express verbally was coming out of me in these little forms.”

No matter which type of journal you decide to keep, there is no right or wrong approach.

The simple act of taking the time to get in touch with your mind, body, and spirit is what’s truly important.


Bridgitte Jackson Buckley is a freelance writer, author and ghostwriter whose focus includes spirituality, transformational documentaries, and in-depth interviews. She is a former contributor to General Religion on the National circuit of Examiner.com as the National Spirituality Examiner. She’s interviewed many New Thought luminaries including Eckhart Tolle, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, and Elizabeth Gilbert. As a freelance writer, she has written online articles for Examiner, Tiny Buddha, Recreate Your Life Story, Thrive Global, Medium, Gaia and Patheos’ Spirituality Itself. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and has traveled extensively throughout Central America including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additional travels also include Hong Kong, Malaysia and (her favorite adventure) Thailand. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, three children and Miniature Schnauzer.

Proud to Be Diverse

Written by Kathleen Archambeau

Kathleen Archambeau, proud diverse

Monoculture is like monosyllable – okay on occasion, but woefully inadequate in most situations. It is well known that diversity leads to better stock performance by more than 30% and that diverse government agencies serve the public better. By 2050, 54% of the US population will be “minority” and more than 30% Hispanic (Office of Personnel Management, 2017). In an era of rampant nationalism, protectionism, racism, sexism and homophobia, diversity in a country founded on its principle has never been more vital to the very survival of democracy. In just a little over 100 days, Trump has dismantled protections for LGBTQ citizens. The Justice and Education Departments have quit protecting transgender kids in public school. North Carolina has been allowed to enact a bill that discriminates against its transgender citizens. This administration made Mike Pence, a signer of a bill allowing discrimination against LGBTQ citizens of Indiana, its vice president. The message is clear: “It’s okay to discriminate against queers.”

The next time you’re inclined to stereotype, stop, take a breath and use your rational mind to properly assess the person before you. Or, as the nuns used to say, “Put on your thinking caps.”

rainbow flag in the Castro Rather than lump us all in the same bucket – buzzed-out, black leather, makeup-less lesbians — educate yourself as to the rainbow of people that make up the queer community. The rainbow is a fitting symbol as queer folks are all ages, all genders, all sexual orientations, all races, all roles, all nationalities, all religions and all abilities – all in. Never before have the stakes been so high. Deny diverse opinions at democracy’s peril. Deny the panoply of talents at your own business risk.

If you’re straight and seeking to understand, or you’re queer and wishing to broaden your vision, 30 LGBTQ luminaries find a central place in my book Pride and Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes, including the African-American California Obama political director; the Mexican-American founder of The Last Drag, a smoking cessation program; the first openly lesbian United Methodist Church bishop, an Argentinian baker, the founder of Ballroom Basix in Harlem’s public schools, the Hungarian activist on a neo-Nazi hit list, the New Zealand Maori Member of Parliament, an Uruguayan award-winning author, the Cuban inaugural poet, a blind mezzo soprano.

Other books to enrich your reading list are: 

Queer America: A People’s GLBT History of the United States by Vicki L. Eaklor 
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Pride&Joy Book Cover WNBA-SF member Kathleen Archambeau is an award-winning nonfiction writer and journalist, She wrote a regular column profiling icons for one of the oldest queer newspapers in the country. Her first book,Climbing the Corporate Ladder in High Heels, was endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and Leslie Blodgett and featured twice in Forbes. A founding supporter of the LGBT wing of the SF Public Library and the Dance of America Foundation Board, VP and Co-Chair of Fundraising for one of the first mental health agencies dedicated to services for the LGBT community, Archambeau has worked tirelessly to extend equal access to all LGBTQ persons. See her website for additional information.