Launch a Successful 2020 at SF Writers Conference!

February 13 – 16, 2020
Intercontinental Hyatt Regency Embarcadero
5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

Join us and help us promote WNBA-SF at the San Francisco Writers Conference!

This will be the 17th Celebration of Craft, Commerce, and Community for all writers. Attendees will join with 100+ presenters and fellow writers from across the country and around the world at this year’s event. The SFWC events are consistently rated among the friendliest, top writer’s conferences anywhere.

Presenters this year will include bestselling authors, literary agents, editors, and publishers from major publishing houses. There will be experts on self-publishing, book promotion, platform building, social media, and author websites. SFWC has one of the largest faculties of any writer’s conference.

The four-day event is packed with 100+ sessions for writers–from the craft of writing to the business of publishing. There is copious networking with the very people who can advance your writing career, an opening gala, three keynote speakers, lots of social interaction with other writers, and evening Open Mic readings and pitch sessions. There will be exhibitors with services and tools for writers, including WNBA-SF Chapter, who will also present sessions.

If you are working on your book, getting ready to publish it, or looking for ways to promote an already published book, this is the event you need to attend. TO REGISTER for the 2020 San Francisco Writers Conference, CLICK HERE!

The San Francisco Writers Conference kicks off Thursday evening with separate Master Classes, taught by the conference headliners, our own Brooke Warner and Jonathan Maberry, among others. The Master Classes continue Sunday evening on an array of topics, open to all. Register HERE for Master Classes.  

Be sure to check out the Screen Writing Summit and the Poetry Summit, also with separate registrations. And don’t miss the FREE, Open to the Public events, like the Writers Coffeehouse Friday evening with Jonathan Maberry and the Children’s Event Friday morning with Armand Baltazar.

The conference runs–pretty much non-stop–through late afternoon on Sunday. If you can stay longer, there is a no-host dinner where you can keep the networking going with SFWC presenters, staff, and volunteers. That’s the entire Presidents’ Day weekend..and then some!

We are proud that so many of our WNBA members will be presenters and volunteers at this conference including: Brooke Warner as a Keynoter, Brenda Knight, Joan Gelfand, Nina Amir, Linda Lee, Mary E. Knippel, Martha Conway, Kate Farrell, Barbara Santos, Helen Sedwick, and more!

 

Five Reasons to Review a Book and a Brief How-To

By Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target

I’m embarrassed to admit how little I appreciated the importance of book reviews until my own book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, was published. Before that, I posted the occasional review on Goodreads and didn’t even know that some publisher sites (including Mango) accept reviews. I rarely left a review on Amazon.

How times change. Now I am ever-so-slightly obsessed with (I’m always obsessed with something) checking all those sites for reviews of my book. And I’ve gone so far as to spend your precious time telling you about it.

Why Leave a Review?

So just why should a person, especially a busy person with lots of competing interests and precious little time or energy, a person such as you, review the books you read?

  1. To Remember the Book

I’ll go ahead and date myself. I’m old enough that I sometimes forget I’ve read a book, even if it seemed “memorable” at the time. It’s a bit frightening, but also enlightening to scan a review I’ve written. It refreshes my recollection and sometimes makes me want to read the book again.

  1. To Forget the Book

Perhaps it’s part of my mental health challenge, but I don’t think I’m alone here. If I read a deeply moving (or deeply disturbing) book, I get “stuck” in the story. Characters and scenes stroll and scroll through my mind when I should be doing other things. Often I can’t sleep. I toss and turn, trapped by the book. But if I write a review, capturing the essence of what is looping through my mind, it releases me and helps me move on.

  1. To Keep Yourself Honest

Many of us skim when we read. I’m no different. But in order to leave a detailed review, I must read deeply. If I want to review the book, I allow myself to slow down, sink in, and really pay attention. As a result, reading regains a pleasure it once lost.

  1. To Share Your Joy (or Pain)

If I enjoy a book, I want other readers to know. If I detest a book, I want other readers to know. If I didn’t finish a book, I want other readers to know that too. Having said that, I do my best not to pan a book just because it wasn’t what I expected. I’m referring to the 3-star review Marko Kloos received because his novel wasn’t a 36-count package of Jimmy Dean sausages.

  1. To Applaud the Author

I’ve always loved authors. Since my earliest days, people who created books out of thin air were my heroes. But now that I have personally gone through the entire process of not just writing a book and finding a publisher, but also marketing the book, I hold other authors in even higher esteem. I want to shout from the rooftops, “You did a really difficult thing! Great job!”

What Makes a “Good” Review?

As a published author, I appreciate the numbers game. Any positive review is lovely and a review of more than two sentences feels like a gift. But the reviews that stay with me are the ones in which the reader shares something personal about themselves and how the book made them feel. One reviewer said “Nita is inside my head.” Another wrote, “I had to stop at the end of one paragraph and call my mom.” Personal connections like these bring me to tears.

When I write reviews now, I remember how it felt to read reviews of my own book. I search for a place where I connect deeply with the book and share that with the author. This type of review achieves all the things I listed above and writing it feels fabulous since it provides the opportunity to cheer someone else along this twisting, winding, writing path.

[This article originally appeared in Nita’s blog, Bum Glue.]


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 and the Dog Writers Association of America 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-eight half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than ninety shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and their yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet the #ninetyninepercentgooddog.

The WNBA-SF Has Your Back!

Join or Renew Membership today for Awesome Benefits!

Agents have told us that writers who belong to organizations like WNBA are more attractive because they demonstrate a commitment to the literary community. 

So if you’re a writer trying to get published, joining WNBA-SF Chapter makes you more attractive to agents!
If you’re not a writer, but a lover of the written word, joining WNBA makes you more interesting because you become part of a community of amazing women who are writers, editors, agents, publishers, booksellers, librarians, publicists, bloggers and more!
As a member of WNBA-SF Chapter, you can meet some of your favorite authors and get to know women who are on the cusp of being published and will soon join that list of your favorites! You’ll have interesting discussions about beautiful writing, share the challenges of finding an agent, learn about the current state of publishing and get tips on how to promote a self-published book, or how to pick the right read for a book club.
Joining WNBA-SF Chapter really does make you more attractive and interesting! 

NOW is the time to join (or renew if you are already a member) so that you can take advantage of these great benefits:

  • Meet publishing professionals face to face at WNBA mixers, readings, writers’ conferences, educational events and at our successful Pitch-O-Rama where many local authors met agents that led to publishing contracts!
  • Promote your book or business: For $30/year a published author or publishing professional member can have two book covers or logos on the WNBA/National home page and link to their business blog and website.
  • If you use @WNBA National, the national organization will often favor or re-tweet your tweets, increasing your following.
  • As WNBA member, you are eligible to submit an article for consideration in the Bookwoman – the national newsletter that goes to all 11 chapters and every member. And you can list your recent news in Member News.
  • Link your blog or website to the SF chapter. Attend as many in person meetings and events as possible to get to know people. Then there’s a good chance that you will make some really great connections.
  • Having WNBA on your resume is a plus, as it has helped many women move their careers forward, and agents like to see that you are part of the local literary community.
  • Discounts on WNBA events and opportunities to participate as a volunteer at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference and San Francisco Writing For Change and showcase your book at local book festivals and bookstores.
  • Ability to promote and sell your book or expertise at specified events.
  • Teach a class or present your book at one of our Mechanics Institute Library San Francisco events in 2020 for fantastic visibility to the public and the large MIL membership!
  • Participate in our or Litquake readings or book fairs.
  • Great way to network!!!!

You can join or renew now by going to this page. There is no application requirement to join. Become a member or renew your membership to enjoy the benefits for the whole year. Jump on your computer and sign up today.

30 Day Writing Challenges

By Elizabeth Kauffman

November got me thinking about how a 30-day challenge makes you a better writer. Of course, my favorite 30-day challenge is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), where writers commit to writing 50,000 words of new fiction in a month. There’s something about knowing I have to write at least 1,667 words a day if I want to hit that 50,000-word finish line that lights a fire under me in ways that my “regular” life doesn’t. I can push past the voice of doubt for just a little while to achieve my goal: words on the page.

Maybe NaNoWriMo doesn’t seem tempting to you at all, though. 30-day challenges are good for more than just rushing past your inner critic. They give you space to learn about your writing in a way that your regular practice can’t. And you can find (or create) a 30-day challenge for just about any aspect of your craft, and maybe even convince other people to join in with you.

Here are five ways a 30-day challenge makes you a better writer:

1) You give yourself permission to try something new.

Maybe you’re a non-fiction writer, but you’ve always wanted to try writing short stories! Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write poetry, but you’re not sure you’re any good at it. Or maybe you want to challenge yourself to create content for your blog. Give yourself 30 days to try something that’s outside of your usual writing routine. Your other writing will be there when your 30 days are up and you’re ready to get back to it. And asking yourself to think outside of your usual creative box will refresh you to bring new inspiration back to your usual work.

2) You give yourself a finite timeline.

Thirty days can seem like a long time, but it’s really not. Dedication and versatility are essential skills in your writer’s toolkit. You know how most people give up on New Year’s Resolutions before the year is half-over? A 30-day challenge offers you a shorter timeline for a reason. It’s not about permanently changing your habits, it’s about trying something radical for 30 days and finding out what you learn by the end of it. The finite timeline allows for you to try, fail, and pivot with no strings attached. 

3) You get to collect data on your writing process for 30 days.

Because hopefully your 30-day-challenge stretches you outside your comfort zone, sometimes you’ll have to push yourself to write, even if the muse isn’t ready and waiting. You’ll have to plan some, and wing it on the days when the plan goes horribly wrong. Maybe you’re trying out writing at a different time of day, or writing a certain number of words every day, or using the Pomodoro method to increase your productivity. As you progress with your challenge, make sure you keep track of what works and what doesn’t work so that you don’t get stuck. Then use that data to help make your regular writing practice stronger.

4) You can plug into a community of writers who have the same goals.

Some of the bigger challenges like National Novel Writing Month or Story-A-Day have built-in communities that you can join for the benefit of mutual encouragement and inspiration. But thanks to the magic of social media, even if you make up your own challenge, you can probably find others willing to test their writing limits with you. Post about it on Facebook or Twitter and see who else is game. You can broaden your writing community and try something new at the same time!

5) You might discover a new passion.

When you try something new and different with your writing practice for 30 days you might find that you actually enjoy the new direction you’re taking. The key is giving yourself space to experiment. Of course the converse is true, too. People have strong feelings for and against every aspect of the writing craft. But don’t take someone else’s word for what’s best for you and your writing. How can you know what you’ll love or what you’ll hate unless you give it a try?

At the end of 30 days, you’ll have a giant pile of 50,000 words, or a stack of stories, or 30 blog posts, (or more!) to show for your effort. Sure, it’s probably not perfect, but that’s not the point of the challenge. You’ll have honed your skills as a writer. You’ll have learned your writerly sweet spots (how many words per minute/hour/day/week you can do comfortably, what time of day you write best, etc.). And you’ll be a better writer for having pushed yourself to try something new, even if it’s only for 30 days.


Elisabeth Kauffman is an editor, an author, and an artist. She edits fiction and memoir for independent clients as well as for publishing companies, and coaches writers to find their voices and connect to the magic in their creative lives. Using creative writing exercises along with tarot, visualization, and more tactile forms of art, she encourages her clients to take risks and tell stories that matter. She volunteers for and speaks at the San Francisco Writers Conference, and with local writers’ groups. She is currently represented by Bradford Literary Agency and hopes to publish her first book (a tarot deck and guide for writers) in the near future.
Elisabeth grew up reading Mary Stewart, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the like. She loves creative, imaginative storytelling, and regularly obsesses over board games, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter. Learn more about her at www.writingrefinery.com or email her at ekauffman@writingrefinery.com.

From Novel to Netflix: Mentoring the book-to-film path with Trisha R. Thomas

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

Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not always a meeting for coffee and reporting back. It can happen in a variety of different ways, like meeting an author at a book fair and requesting an email interview.

Unlike my usual manner of attending events without having gone over the complete schedule, for some reason before going to the Leimert Park Book Fair, I looked through the online schedule in its entirety and noticed a book-to-film panel discussion. How did I miss that when I made plans to attend?! I immediately switched gears in preparation to arrive two hours earlier to attend the panel discussion.

When I arrived at the book fair with my 12 year-old son, who is also an avid reader, we hurriedly walked to locate the main stage where the panel discussion was scheduled to take place. Unfamiliar with the venue, we stopped at the information table on the 1st floor and were directed to the 2nd floor. We got off the escalator and walked to the end of the hall (as directed).

No stage.

We went back down the escalator and asked a second volunteer for the location, but were again erroneously directed to the opposite end of where we needed to go. Finally, we found the main stage and I quickly found a seat. My son went to look out the window. This isn’t his genre. No dragon and sorcerer discussions here.

I was prepared to learn all the wonderful ins-and-out of a subject matter completely foreign to me. ‘Tell me something I don’t know!’ I thought as I eagerly positioned myself to listen to the panel, which consisted of a one-on-one with authors Trisha R. Thomas, Nappily Ever After and Michael Datcher, Americus.

Nappily Ever After, based on the novel by Thomas, an award-winning author of literary fiction, was made into a feature film on Netflix starring Saana Lathan.

Nappliy Ever After Trailer (2018) Netflix

I had many questions, but because we had difficulty locating the main stage we arrived five minutes before the panel discussion ended!

After both Thomas and Datcher left the stage to sit at the book signing table, I wasn’t sure what to do with my unanswered questions. I stood near the line for the book signing table while my son repeatedly requested a $5.00 slice cheese of pizza and two attendees asked if I was in line or not.

I carefully considered my most pressing question:

As an African-American woman writer, how did she break through the book-to-film barrier?

I took a deep breath and decided to request an email interview with Thomas.

She agreed.

BJB: How can writers, specifically women writers of color, break through to have their book considered for a film option if their literary agent does not query film agents?

TT: I have found it helpful to have a literary agent who specializes in book publishing and a specific agent for film development. Two different agencies.

BJB: What is the most important thing you wish you had known prior to having your book made into a feature film on Netflix?

TT: Before having Nappily Ever After made into a film I ended up writing 8 more books in the series. I kept writing about Venus (Violet) to see where her journey was taking her. I actually hoped it was going to be a series so I wanted to be prepared with her full life trajectory, falling in love, falling out, and finding herself again.

I don’t have anything I would’ve done differently.

I have a library of cool stories under my belt that I wouldn’t have had if I’d just been sitting on my hands waiting for the film to happen.

BJB: What plans do you have to mentor or offer guidance to African-American women authors interested in the book-to-film path of writing?

TT: I have a few writers that I’m mentoring right now.

I suggest if you’re looking for a mentor you start locally where you can have a personal relationship as well. Go to conferences and meet the person you’d like to bounce ideas from and have a real interaction. The next step is exchanging contact information and your goals.

Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice, knowledge and information. It’s not solely about achieving goals. It’s also about coming together; coming together in unexpected ways to help each other.

You may not have the same goals as your mentor, but what you do have are similar intentions to create inspiring and creative content. This is why each and every person who is intrinsically inspired to create in whatever form — be it writing, painting, drawing, photography, or singing — is important. What you think and feel and how you share your creativity with the world carries a distinct vibration of inspiration.

The wonderful part is there is room for everyone.

Not only is there room, there is a collective need for similar creative intentions to be expressed in a variety of ways because there are a variety of recipients.

Your work touches differently than that of your mentor and because of this it’s crucial to have supportive camaraderie; someone who is willing to share information and encourage you as a writer to keep going — to let your creative voice be heard.


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.

NaNoWriMo – Tips for Success

by Nita Sweeney

When someone asks HOW to start writing, what they often want to know is WHERE to start writing, as in, “Where should my story begin?”

If it is November and they are participating in National Novel Writing Month, the annual challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction during the thirty days of November, about which I’ve written many times, the person’s question is premature.

Come to think of it, regardless of whether or not it is November or whether or not they are participating in NaNoWriMo, the question is still premature. In order to begin, a writer, new or otherwise, doesn’t need to know what words will follow the heading “Chapter One.” They just need to start writing.

But let me add a caveat. I write from my gut. I feel my way through. Not everyone is like this. Some people need to think a piece through or draft an outline. They may need extensive notes and research, especially for longer works. All that is fine, of course. But at some point, they just have to dive in.

That’s where writing practice saves me.

Decades of doing timed writing with no agenda except to put words on the page sidesteps the potentially paralyzing question of where the story should start. I figure it out by writing. I get in there and wallow around. Research or plotting or planning I’ve done ahead of time only serves me once my fingers are hammering the keyboard. I have to turn on the spigot and then, once the water is flowing, I’ll see what crevices it naturally wants to enter.

What is writing practice? It’s what I learned from best-selling author Natalie Goldberg. Timed writing. Set a timer and go. No thought. No crossing out or back spacing. No wondering if what I just wrote makes any sense. No stopping until the timer dings. It’s freeing and terrifying and the only way I know how to work. It’s the engine beneath everything I write.

And, it is just my way. I would love to hear about other ways in the comments.

Nita Sweeney
(c)Nita Sweeney, 2019, all rights reserved


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).

Three Ways To Get Buzz For Your Book

By Paula Rizzo, author of Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You(September 2019)

A few short weeks ago, my newest book, Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You, was published! I’m super excited. 

Many of my clients are authors as well and I always give them the same advice when I’m media training or working on media strategy with them. 

So I’m practicing what I preach! 

Here’s what I’ve been doing to get my book out there before it hit bookshelves:  

Get Traditional Media Mentions: When it comes to publishing a book, I always tell my clients to get media attention well before the book comes out. If you’re lucky you could be like my friend Ilise Benun who got one media mention that brought her ten years worth of business! Check out my video interview with her here. 

I spent close to two decades as a television producer and the authors who got coverage were the ones that I already knew. That’s because they were already experts in my eyes and it was easy to say yes to someone who has already proven to be a good source for you. You want to be friendly with editors and producers well before you have a book to sell. It’s much easier to get their attention when they know and trust you already. 

As I always say media begets more media, so putting your name out there will create a ripple effect and hopefully bring new potential readers and media to your door. For more on what television producers specifically looking for check out my post on it here.

Here’s a recent interview I did with PsychCentral.com where I was interviewed about how to brainstorm better and be more creative. I took an example from my recent trip to Greece. Creativity is not a topic I typically would speak on but it worked and I got a mention for my book in there along with my quote. 

So that’s a lesson – don’t be tied to only talk about your topic. If you can confidently lend expertise in other areas do it – you’ll still get a mention for your book so it’s a win win! 

Also remember to never stop doing media. That’s a big mistake a lot of authors make. They only do media when they’re promoting. Make it part of your overall strategy. If you’re serious about this I can help – apply for a media strategy session here.

Produce Video Content: I may sound like a broken record with how often I encourage everyone to do video but that’s only because it works! 

When you’re seen on video the viewer gets to know you and like you. It’s a special connection that you can’t get through written word only. This is something you should be doing regularly. But for sure leading up to a big launch you should double your efforts.

There are so many topics that an author can create videos about. You wrote a whole book – pull from that! Remember to teach what you know and it will be much easier. 

If you want to learn how to create compelling video – take my free webinar “Produce Like a Pro” here

Plus, take your potential readers behind-the-scenes of your big launch. Let them see what you’re up to and they’ll get excited as well. For example, here are a few recent videos I’ve done as I prepare for Listful Living’s launch. 

VIDEO: Unboxing my author copies of Listful Living and seeing it for the first time!

FB LIVE: 30 Days til Listful Living Publishes

FB LIVE: Heading to record the audio book version of Listful Living 

Get Booked on Podcasts – Podcasts are so hot right now. You might be hearing that “everyone has a podcast” these days. They’re actually so popular that recording studios are the new must-have for boutique hotels. It’s true!  

So what better place to start getting your name out there? Podcasts tend to have a unique and niche audience so you can really target those who you think would be interested in what you offer. And you can even reach new audiences too. 

Also – podcasts are a good place to work out your material because they are usually between 20 minutes and one hour. So your answers don’t have to be as tight and concise as with television. 

Plus, here’s something you might not know, people who listen to podcasts buy books. Yep it’s true. 

Everyone thinks getting on the Today Show or another TV show means your book will fly off the shelves.

It’s simply not true. 

Podcasts are the ticket. 

In fact, I was just at a conference and a media expert said her client was on The Today Show and sold only 111 books from that appearance. But when she was on a podcast the numbers soared. 

Here are some of the recent podcasts I’ve been on to talk about my book – even before it is published!

Profitology Podcast with Kelly O’Neil – Crack the Media Code with Paula Rizzo. Even though this is about media I still got to mention my book. 

Good Life Coach with Michele Lamourex – How to Get Booked on TV and in Print. Same with this podcast and the host was so intrigued with my other expertise in productivity and list making that she wanted to record a second show just on that topic. 

Good Life Coach with Michele Lamourex – How to Use Lists for a Happier Less Stressed. 

Get Published with Paul Brodie  – How to Use Traditional Media Effectively. This one combines my journey as an author with strategies to get media attention.

available now and  

My book is available everywhere books are sold; if you’re the least bit interested I’d love if you grabbed a copy now: 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/ListfulLiving  

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/ListfulLivingBN 

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/ListfulLivingIndiebound

BONUS FREEBIE: Your message deserves the media’s attention. So how do you get out there in a bigger way? I’ve got you covered. CLICK HERE to grab my free “Checklist to Become a Go-To Media Expert.”


As a best-selling author and Emmy-award winning television producer for nearly 20 years, I’ve produced health, wellness, and lifestyle segments with a range of top experts, including JJ Virgin, Jillian Michaels, and Deepak Chopra. I served as senior health producer for Fox News Channel in New York City for over a decade. Today, I work with experts, authors, and entrepreneurs on how to position themselves for media (traditional as well as blogs and podcasts), build their lists, and engage customers and fans for their brands, books and businesses.

I’m also the co-creator of Lights Camera Expert – an online course geared towards helping entrepreneurs, authors and experts get media attention.

I created the productivity site ListProducer.com and am the best-selling author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed, which has been translated into 12 languages and has been featured on many media outlets including Fox News, Fox Business, Prevention, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Brides and made it on Oprah.com’s list of “Self Help Books That Actually Help.”

My latest book: Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You was published in the Fall of 2019.

I’m a regular speaker, and presented the keynote address for New York Women in Communications, and have presented at MA Conference for Women, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), American Society of Association Executives, and others.

 

Love it or Leave it?

By Angelica Shirley Carpenter |

On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony voted in the presidential election in her hometown of Rochester, New York. Two weeks later a United States deputy marshal called at her house to arrest her for illegal voting. He offered to let her go to the district attorney’s office by herself. “Oh, dear, no,” she said. “I much prefer to be taken, handcuffed, if possible.” 

Her arrest and trial made national headlines. Some accounts were written and published by her friend Matilda Joslyn Gage, a fellow leader in the National Woman Suffrage Association. Gage traveled from her home near Syracuse to support Anthony; they organized separate speaking tours around Rochester. Anthony’s speech asked “Is it a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?” Gage’s talk was entitled “The United States on Trial, Not Susan B. Anthony.” 

Their speeches were so effective that the Monroe County district attorney ruled they had tainted the jury pool. He changed the venue to Ontario County, where the two suffragists managed to stage another whirlwind of talks before the trial. 

The court case, by today’s standards, was a joke. The jury was all male. The judge, described by Gage as “a small-brained, pale-faced, prim-looking man,” ruled Anthony incompetent to testify (all women were considered incompetent to testify at trials). After two days of testimony and speeches by lawyers, the judge pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. 

“This was the first criminal case he had been called on to hear since his appointment,” Gage wrote later, “and with remarkable forethought, he had penned his decision before hearing it.”

“Gentlemen of the jury,” the judge read from his paper, “Miss Anthony knew that she was a woman, and that the Constitution of this State prohibits her from voting. She intended to violate that provision—intended to test it, perhaps, but certainly intended to violate it. . . . She voluntarily gave a vote which was illegal and thus is subject to the penalty of the law.” 

Without allowing the jurors to deliberate, or even to speak a word, he directed them to find her guilty. After instructing the court clerk to enter the verdict, he dismissed the jury and announced a fine for Anthony: one hundred dollars, plus court costs.

“May it please your honor,” Anthony said, “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” And she never did.

Later a law journal published a review of the case, offering advice to the radical women. Matilda Joslyn Gage responded in her newspaper, The National Citizen and Ballot Box: “The Albany Law Journal,” she said “. . . advised Miss Anthony and ourself if we were not pleased with ‘our laws,’ that is, laws made by men, to leave the country, to exile ourselves. This legal journal does not even recognize woman’s right of protest, but if for any reason, women are not pleased with ‘our laws!’ they are bidden to leave the country. Under such a monstrous perversion of justice, . . . cannot all women say We are Without a Country?”

This monstrous perversion of justice has echoed through decades of patriotic dissent. In the 1960s, people who protested the draft and who fought against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War received similar advice. Some did leave, but others stayed, and some even died in that war, believing that they could effect change from within. And eventually the country agreed: the United States had been wrong to attack that small, brave country. 

Today the demand comes from a white supremacist president, aimed particularly at women of color, to love this country or leave it. In solidarity with them, I’d like to echo the 60s: Hell no, we won’t go! It’s our country, too. We will stay and fight to make it better and to make it equal for all.


Angelica Shirley Carpenter is the author of Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist. Her website is angelicacarpenter.com.

Journaling for Problem Solving

By Debra Eckerling, author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals (January 2020)

Whenever someone asks me for writing tips, I suggest keeping a journal. You already have the material – your life, your drama, your observations – so it’s perfect for polishing your writing skills, as well as developing your style and tone. But it’s so much more than that.

While journaling is traditionally used for jotting down what’s going on in your life – tracking your actions, activities, and emotions – one of my favorite ways to use a journal is for problem-solving. 

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re exploring a plot point, pondering a career choice, or dealing with a personal matter, you may find yourself mulling it over constantly … and sometimes to no avail. However, when you take pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – in your quest to work something out, you are much more likely to come up with an effective solution.

Want to gain more clarity? Need to resolve something that’s bothering you? Try my Directed Journaling technique.

Directed Journaling

Directed journaling is stream-of-consciousness writing spurts, focused on a specific theme, issue, or problem. 

Here’s how it works:

In your calendar, schedule between three and five 15-minute sessions over a few days. Be sure to set a reminder.

When you get the alert for your appointment, set a timer for 15 minutes, and start writing.

Note: While there are numerous benefits to writing by hand, if you are more likely to complete the process by typing on a computer, go for it!

During each journaling session, focus on the challenge at hand. 

Answer questions, such as: 

  • What’s the problem? 
  • How can I resolve it? 
  • What are all the possible solutions? 

Think outside the box; be as logical and as extreme as possible. These notes are for your eyes only. And don’t worry about repeating yourself. The trick is to get everything out of your head and onto the page.

Here’s the trick. Do not read any of these journal entries until you have done the process several times.

Once you have exhausted your thoughts on the subject, then you may read the journal entries. 

As you go through them, note the ideas you repeat – those are what you are most drawn to. You may also come up with solutions that seem to come from left field. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to babble on paper. 

When you open yourself to all possibilities, and look at them objectively, you are more likely to come up with a successful plan.

Final Thoughts

Journaling is truly one of the best ways to gather and organize your thoughts. Use it to log ideas for writing projects, gather character quirks from people-watching, draft articles and outlines, track your life, or solve problems. The options are endless. 

Enjoy the process … and know that you can amp it up when you need to. It’s just another tool in your writers’ toolbox.


Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals (Mango Publishing, January 2020), as well as the self-published Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All AgesA goal coach, project catalyst, and founder of The D*E*B Method, Debra works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on one coaching, workshops, and online support. Note: DEB stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path. She is the founder of Write On Online, a live and online community for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, as well as host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat (Sundays at 7pm PT) and the Guided Goals Podcast.

In Defense of Indie Publishing

by Pamela Feinsilber |

Book lovers have no doubt been delighted to see Barbara Lane’s new bimonthly Books column in the Chronicle. Years ago, I attended several of her conversations with authors at the Commonwealth Club and thought her a terrific interviewer. In addition, I’m a freelance book editor—so I found it doubly disappointing that she did such little research for her July 26 column, “Is it worth paying $7,500 to have your book published? Maybe.”

We all understand that it’s ever more difficult to get your work, particularly fiction, accepted by a mainstream publisher. Happily, there’s an ever-growing indie-publishing world out there, one that has nothing to do with the ancient, disparaging term “vanity press.” Even so, Lane—and many others, of course—still seems to think that “if your book is any good,” one of the “reputable publishing houses” will want to publish it. Anything less, she implies, is either intended for family only or the work of a vain and talentless hack. 

That kind of thinking, however, is completely outdated. I’ve worked with dozens of self-publishing authors, from well-known writers to first timers. So it grieves me that people—especially like those in this organization, putting so much time and tears into their writing—aren’t getting good information.

The truth is, more and more published authors are choosing to keep more of the process, and all the royalties, in their own hands. And like any writer, the first-time novelists, memoirists, self-helpers and others feel passionate about what they have to say and want to get it out there. Investing in their own work, perhaps instead of taking a vacation or buying a new car this year, is a way to make that happen. 

Some writers don’t care about earning the money back; they’re glad to have produced their one novel or memoir. And yes, every once in a while, a traditional publisher happens on a “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “The Martian.” That occurs, by the way, with less blockbusting books, too. Just thinking of my clients, Kevin McLean’s memoir “Crossing the River Kabul” was picked up by a university press and received excellent reviews. 

Literary agents are more hesitant to take on mid-list or less-commercial-seeming books these days, but that’s no reason not to persevere. Several of my clients have done just that and never looked back. 

“When It’s Over,” historical fiction by Barbara Ridley, was a finalist for six indie-press awards. Christine Volker’s “Venetian Blood” won the (May) Sarton Women’s Book Award in contemporary fiction, the Independent Press Award for Mystery and First-Time Published Fiction, and a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for International Mystery. You can bet that this recognition, as well as their good reviews, will help both when their second novels are done.

Ego had nothing to do with Therese Crutcher-Marin’s persistence in getting her heart-felt memoir out. While Kirkus gave “Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease, and Marrying Into a Family at Risk for Huntington’s” a strong review, she has focused on selling it at HD fundraising and other events. So far, she’s made almost $15,000. Imagine how much she’d earn if she tried to reach a wider audience.

Lane got the figure in her headline from (and gave most of her column to) She Writes Press, a hybrid press in Berkeley. When She Writes, which published the two novelists I’ve mentioned, accepts a manuscript, it does beautiful work for a fee of, yes, $7,500; but if the book requires editing—and what work doesn’t?—that costs extra. 

And She Writes keeps 40 percent of the royalties. That’s much less than the mainstream publishers take, but 40 percent more than if you become your own publisher, as Therese did.

After getting professional editing, many authors work with a graphic designer, who creates the cover, interior design, and print and e-books and—almost as important—gets their book into the IngramSpark catalogue. A longtime, well-known book distributor, Ingram added this excellent print-on-demand feature several years ago. Once bookstores know about your book, they can order copies through Ingram, just as with any other title. Doing your own marketing is key, but that’s true whether you have a traditional publisher or not. 

Lots of companies can help you create your book, but they won’t distribute it. You could work with Amazon’s KDP, but most independent bookstores won’t stock books created through Amazon.

Speaking of bookstores, the Path to Publishing program at Book Passage in Corte Madera will take you through all these steps, from recommending a mentor or an editor like me to suggesting a graphic designer and a publicist to helping you get an ISBN number to getting your book on its shelves.

Honestly, I could go on and on in exasperation that more hardworking potential authors haven’t explored this ever-improving option. I’ve worked with so many happily self-published authors. It’s a new world out there! Why not take a little time to explore it?

After working in the magazine world, most recently as a senior editor at San Francisco magazine, Pamela Feinsilber has for more than a decade been editing books. She’s at www.pamelafeinsilber.com.