The Scribe

“A Literary

Publication for writers, by writers”

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<<< THE ST. LOUIS WRITERS GUILD PRESENTS <<< SPRING 2012 <<<

>>>Important>>>
The Scribe has a new look! Find out how you can help transform The Scribe from a newsletter to a literary magazine. Deadline May 30. Check out Pg 17 for more info.

Saint Louis IX of France

The Scribe
From the President's Desk P2 SLWG Lecture Series: New authors Sarah M. Anderson & T.W. Fendley P 7

SLWG Lecture Series: One Agent, Two Book Deals P 12 SLWG Presents: A Night of Poetry and Jazz P 14

Workshop for Writers: Mary Menke: Editing/Proofreading: A Do-It-Yourself Job? P 5

Future Events P 17 In the next issue P 17

Workshop for Writers: Bob Baker: The E-Revolution: Creating, Promoting, and Selling your Work Online P 9 Workshop for Writers: Perfecting your Pitch P 10

Cover Photo is of Downtown St. Louis

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Scribe
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s the 63rd* President of St. Louis Writers Guild, I feel as though I have inherited a rich tradition, one that can be built upon yet will always retain the greatness that has brought us this far. I have been Historian since 2008, which has given me a deep love for this organization and all the writers in St. Louis. My goals as president are simple. I have a three-fold approach – provide help with sales and marketing to our published members; convey knowledge and industry insight to those who are querying; and give tips, tricks, and encouragement to writers just starting out. (*We don’t have records for a few years, so the number of presidents is probably higher.) Following are a few new features coming to the St. Louis Writers Guild: The New Scribe For more than a decade, The Scribe has been our mainstay for communicating with members. As the members-only publication, it began as a way to showcase the organization and share insights into the publishing world. The back issues give a wonderful record of the Guild.

president’s desk>>>
Recently the cost to produce each issue became prohibitive, so we decided to develop a new version, one that will expand what we can do. The Scribe will be more like St. Louis Writers Guild’s magazine. Future issues will be bigger, with more features. This issue includes a call for submissions. If there is something literary-related you want to share, contact The Scribe at News@stlwritersguild.org. The Events Due to circumstances beyond our control over the last couple of years, several of our venues disappeared. This caused us to bounce around for a bit, but I am 2

>>>from the

happy to announce we have found new homes for our events. Workshops for Writers is our main meeting. Held on the first Saturday of the month at Kirkwood Community Center, these workshops are meant to hone the skills of every member. I encourage everyone to arrive a little early or stay afterward to mingle. These workshops have been taking place since SLWG’s first meeting in 1920, where they talked about novel writing. The Station Open Mic is where anyone can share their work. We’ve settled into the Kirkwood Train Station and love its ambiance. The building is more than a century old, and the trains are much less intrusive than the coffee grinders of previous venues. This is our only open mic for now. Writing to the Edge conflicted with another major literary event in the city, but we’d be willing to bring it back if circumstances permit.

SLWG Lecture Series lost its home when Borders closed (we were literally their last event). We are happy to announce we have found a new home. Maryville University graciously offered to host our lecture series and has given us access to the Buder Family Student Commons, a beautiful, recently renovated venue stocked with all the latest technology. Special Events—Beyond our regular events, SLWG will continue to host special events aimed at bringing our community of writers together, like A Night of Poetry and Jazz, the SLWG Members Picnic, the Winter Gala, and our free miniconference, Writers in the Park. The Webinars We have a new, free benefit for members: SLWG will host a series of webinars this year. These webinars allow members, even those not in the area, to gather together from the luxury of their own homes. You can view the webinars live and participate in the discussion or access the recorded webinar later from the SLWG website. The first webinar, Formatting Your Manuscript, is already posted on our Discussion Boards. Our goal is to hold one every couple of months, and maybe more often in the future.

great honor to be President of this
organization…

“I consider it a ”

amazing, 92-year-old

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Young Author’s Writer’s Awards We were saddened to see the end of the Big Read Festival and The Big Write Kids Contest, which routinely received more than 600 entries every year. St. Louis Writers Guild has a rich tradition of encouraging young writers. Back in the 1920s and ‘30s, we held the Winifred Irwin Contest, named for a young woman who committed suicide after receiving several rejection letters. To honor the tradition of supporting young writers, we created the Young Writers Awards. Featuring two age categories, the contest will be held in the late

summer and fall. If you are interested in helping us pre-screen and judge this contest, or would like to help with the prizes, please contact me at slwgpresident@gmail.com. I consider it a great honor to be President of this amazing, 92-yearold organization. I must thank the board members and everyone who assists St. Louis Writers Guild. Without each one of these great writers, this organization would not be one of the oldest, largest, and most vibrant literary communities in the country.

Brad Cook President

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Faye Adams performing at the Station Open Mike. Photo Credit by Brad Cook

On Writing

Mary Menke: Editing,
a do-it yourself job?
Written by Mohnish Soundararajan, Photo Credit by Brad Cook
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When it comes to writing,
people seldom get it right the first time, or the second time, or sometimes even the third. With this in mind, Mary Menke--writer, consultant, business communications trainer and professional speaker--gave St. Louis Writers Guild members an insider look at editing, in all its unabashed glory. Whether you are speaking, blogging, or writing the next Great American novel, editing is essential to making good writing great. Kicking off the Jan. 7 Workshop for Writers, Menke posed a question to an engaged audience: “Is editing a do-it-yourself job [or should you invest in an editor]?” Menke argued that editors can be key players in helping your work shine by offering a powerful second set of eyes to sharing their profound awareness of the English language. If fallacies infest your story or it’s merely sprinkled with grammatical

mistakes--whether you see it or not-editors will come to your rescue. To many, getting an editor is a scary prospect. From the expense to the possibility of theft, the deeply engrained fears of obtaining an editor are understandable. But many of these fears are also unfounded. When people argue that editors have it in for them, Menke advised to “have a thick skin. Editors aren’t in the business to insult you. They want to help you put your best foot forward.” While editing can be a do-it-yourself job, she said having an editor will help bulletproof your work. Only when people dismiss editing entirely does the real danger arise. “It’s one reason why selfpublishing gets a bad reputation,” Menke said. “It’s simply not edited well.” Rewriting, editing, and polishing will always be an indispensable staple of the writing craft, but choosing to embrace it is up to you.

Only when people dismiss

editing entirely does the real
danger arise…


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SLWG LECTURE SERIES: Sarah M.
Anderson & T.W. Fendley
Written by Jennifer Stolzer
On Jan. 19, the St. Louis
Writers Guild Lecture Series ventured to the Maryville University campus for a night with T.W. Fendley, author of Zero Time, and Sarah M. Anderson, author of A Man of His Word. The two new authors shared their professional backgrounds and insight to the different kinds of publishing. Anderson attributes her start in traditional publishing to tenacity and luck, two traits mirrored in her good-humored and realistic mindset. “Don't give up,” Anderson said, “but you might fail. Patience is the key.” A prolific writer, Anderson found success writing series romance novels. She recommends the genre as a good starting place for fresh authors thanks to the demand for manuscripts. Even with a demanding schedule, Anderson recently selfpublished a book on her own. Unlike traditional publishing, selfpublishing meant Anderson could work at her own pace, but also required she be her own editor and publicist. “Traditional publishing earns you their distribution,” Anderson said. “Self-publishing is a full-time job unto itself.” T.W. Fendley published her novel through L&L Dreamspell, a small press based in Texas. Using a small press gave her access to editors and resources in both print and ebook publishing, although without an agent Fendley said a large part of the revision and marketing process was up to her. She relied on her own persistence, and the experience and support of her peers, to prepare her novel. “Writing is a team sport,” Fendley said. “Readers will see things you miss.” She recommended for new writers to enter contests like those hosted by the St. Louis and Missouri Writers' Guilds and workshops like the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy workshop to help them hone their skills. “Pay attention to feedback,” Fendley said “You have to overcome the fear of failing.” Both Anderson and Fendley work hard on marketing, using resources like Goodreads and 7

Library Thing to push their titles. Submitting requests to book reviewers and blogs was also very helpful. The two authors ended their

panel encouraging authors in attendance to pat themselves on the back and take credit for their own accomplishments.

“Writing is a team

sport” Fendley said.
“Readers will see things

you miss”
“The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do” ~Steve Jobs
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WORKSHOP FOR WRITERS: Bob Baker: The ERevolution: Creating, Promoting, and Selling your Work Online
Written by Mohnish Soundararajan

subject, Baker began by explaining the

It’s clear that
Bob Baker knows how to work a crowd. President of the St. Louis Publisher’s Association, author, musician, and music marketing guru, Baker has used eBooks to spread his own ideas out onto the world with great success. At the Feb. 4 Workshop for Writers, water bottle at the ready, Baker gave an animated and in-depth talk on the eBook revolution –a compelling market that boasts sevenfigure incomes for some while remaining a complete mystery to others. When it comes to eBooks, it’s hard not to ask

yourself, “Where do I start? What tools do I use? And how do I reach out to an audience?” Baker answered these questions for an

intricacies of using eBook software from finding an

aggregator (a selfpublishing and distribution platform), to using

Bob Baker

engaged audience.

With an infectious passion for the

the Internet to broadcast your own message. He joked about the popular
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aggregator Smashwords, inadvertently calling the service “just another aggravator” before quickly correcting himself. Even for the less tech-savvy, the internet, while frustrating, is a crucial marketing tool. “The internet is really like an allyou-can-eat buffet— you can’t eat everything, but you are there to eat something,” he said.

Use it to your own advantage; use the internet’s own tentacles (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In) to reach out— not just to prospective publishers and agents, but to fans, a core component to building your platform and staying successful.
“Whatever platform you use to communicate and promote yourself, make sure it’s there to either educate, entertain, or to

enlighten. Offer something to your readers—to your fans.” Baker’s books, 55 Ways to Promote and Sell your Book on the Internet and Unleash the Artist Within are available in print and, of course, on the internet. Bob Baker has used eBooks to spread his own message out onto the world. How will you take advantage of the internet’s tentacles?

WORKSHOP FOR WRITERS: Perfecting Your Pitch to
Publishers
Written by Mohnish Soundararajan

At the March 3 Workshop for Writers, SLWG challenged Margo Dill, Steve Wiegenstein, and Peter

Green to answer one question: How do you effectively pitch to an agent? 10

Frankly, it’s hard to answer, but the panel showed us how to do just that. With a cheerful aura about him, Steve Wiegenstein, author of Slant of Light, provided candid advice to the Guild: Pitch to agents with your wits about you. “You gotta know your audience,” Wiegenstein advised. If the agent is known for constantly rejecting historical fantasy, don’t be the guy that comes to him or her with your seemingly brilliant historical fantasy pitch. Be smart with agents, put yourself in their shoes, and more importantly cater to their needs. “It’s a business meeting for them as well,” said Wiegenstein. Margo Dill, author of Finding My Place, has found her own way to cut into the increasingly difficult children’s market. She said conferences are integral to getting published; you need to treat them with the care and respect they deserve. “There is a fine line between networking and being obnoxious,” she said. Listen to

agents (“they know what they’re talking about”), use connections, and don’t be a nuisance to the publishers. Doing these things, Dill said, will maximize your chances for publication. Peter Green, Vice President of Programs at the Writer’s Guild, gave no-nonsense advice on how to appeal to agents and how to produce the quality work that agents want. “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write,” he said, promoting the use of workbooks, following through with your writing, and honing your craft through reading. Agents aren’t just looking for people who can pitch well, but for people who have something important to say, he said. Getting the green light from an agent can sometimes seem like an indefinite and distant prospect. But with a little prep, smart thinking, and authentic, compelling material, you can undoubtedly go a long way.

“There is a fine line between networking and being obnoxious”

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Two Book Deals
SLWG LECTURE SERIES:
Written by Jennifer Stolzer Cole Gibsen--author, musician, and martial-arts enthusiast-compared modern publishing to Bruce Lee's film, The Game of Death, during her March 15 presentation. In the film, a young fighter undergoes an epic test, scaling a tower with a stronger enemy on every floor. Gibsen's climbed high in her short career as an author. Her debut novel, Katana, was published in March by Flux after a long query and acquisition process. Her second book, Breathless released by Crescent Moon Press later the same month. The climb was not easy. “I wouldn't recommend two books in a month,” Gibsen said. “If you can avoid it, avoid it.” First floor of her publishing “tower of death”—writing. “The most important thing to writing a book is finishing a book,” Gibsen said. She recommended all authors to find a quality critique group. “You really need honest people who will help you with your work and be a cheerleader,” Gibsen said. “You should never leave your critique group feeling more down than inspired.” She stressed the importance of editing and polishing a draft before querying. “People now want books ready to publish. Acquisition editors are now the editors. It's not true for all, but definitely for mine.” Second floor of the tower of death—queries. Katana went through three months of queries before finding an agent. Throughout the process she received many rejections, but Gibsen stuck with her motto: “It's okay to quit for today as long as you start up again the next day.” She continued to “start up again the next day” until she connected with a junior agent at Firebrand. She then began the trek up tower floor number three. Third floor of the tower of death—acquisitions. Finding an editor and a publisher was more difficult than Gibsen expected. Katana moved from acquisition meeting to acquisition meeting, with difficult decisions along the way. 12

One Agent,

“You have to know what you're willing to gamble,” Gibsen said. “Do you want to hold out for a big contract or see your book on the shelves?” In the end, they decided on a lesser-known imprint, Flux, and the comfort of a sure thing. Then it was time to promote, the biggest villain of all. Fourth floor of the tower of death—promotion. “Reviews suck,” Gibsen said plainly. “Everyone gets bad reviews. There's no perfect book out there, but nothing can prepare you for when someone says it about your baby.” But Gibsen's motto stayed strong; she let herself mope for a day but would not let anyone take her joy. “You cannot make everyone happy, but odds are the good reviews are going to outweigh the bad,” she said. “Remember, you and every other writer are in it together. Writers can be really amazing people. There are critics out there who really love to tear us down.” While Katana was still

ascending its own tower, Gibsen's second book, Breathless, embarked on a different journey through small press publishing and its own set of challenges. “With the large publisher I gave up the freedom of 'I'm doing it my way,'” Gibsen said. Working with a small press left her with the final word on everything from copy to cover, but also with much of the work. She used the resources provided by her publishing house and got her book ready to hit shelves within the same month Flux planned to release Katana. Now Cole Gibsen is ready to scale a new “Tower of Death” - the struggle of marketing two books at once and supporting herself as a professional writer. She's scaled two difficult towers and encourages her fellow writers to always aim for the top. “Aim as high as you can,” Gibsen said. “Prepare to adapt. Go to as many functions as possible and talk to as many people as possible; you never know who you're going to meet...You never know what's going to happen.” Gibsen will be speaking and signing copies of her novels at various venues throughout the St. Louis area in the upcoming months. See her schedule of appearances at www.ColeGibsen.com.

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A

Night of
By Jennifer Stolzer On March 31, the Kirkwood Train Station was the stage for A Night of Poetry and Jazz! Raven Wolf C. Felton Jennings II melded his unique brand of jazz with the poetic beats of six local poets: Jason Braun, Erin Chapman, Nicky Rainey, Treasure Shields Redmond, Gerry Mandel, and Dwight Bitikofer. More than fifty filled the room to hear a selection of works to the moving tunes of what Raven Wolf calls Soulful Jazz. “It's an original genre I created myself,” he explained, "with elements of jazz, blues, gospel, and Ethiopian and other rhythms of my heritage.” The event's host, Dwight Bitikofer, began the evening with a thoughtful selection of "origin" poems celebrating the history of poetry, birth of jazz, and adventure of train

Poetry and Jazz

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travel. Nicky Rainey continued the theme with poems about train rides having a humorous and often ironic tone. Her reading almost conversed with Raven Wolf's music as he accompanied her on flute. Jason Braun was intrigued by the evening's opportunity. “I didn't know how often I'd be able to read poems in a train station to people who would actually listen,” Jason said. He chose poems inspired by his life as a musician and time working with the St. Louis Science Center. St. Louis County Library manager Erin Chapman said it was not

her first time to be accompanied by Raven Wolf. “It is a wonderful feeling,” she said. “There is no one else in the world with whom I can just get in front of the microphone and see what happens.” Erin read poetry dedicated to the creation of art and “the artists who know work is inside them and needs to get outside.” Treasure Shields Redman took the microphone with a powerful set of poems about her cultural heritage. She dedicated her first piece to the late Trayvon Martin and honored him with a stirring oration about his murder to Raven Wolf's powerful, resounding

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drumbeats. Treasure harmonized with the instruments, adding melody to the words of her poems. Gerry Mandel chose his pieces with Raven Wolf in mind. He opened with a poem about a jazz club that made way for RavenWolf's sax as if it were another verse in the composition, at times even flirting with it like a girl at the bar. When Gerry finished, Raven took center stage to play a stirring soul medley. At intermission, the audience mingled with the performers and enjoyed snacks and drinks provided by the St. Louis Writers' Guild.

Each poet took a second turn on the mic followed by Raven Wolf's stirring, soulful jazz as the audience snapped along to the rhythm. Dwight Bitikofer drew the night to a close with one last poem about being a poet. Afterward, local television station HETC TV Arts Channel interviewed the artists and documented the evening for use in their Poetry Month coverage.

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Future Events
April 7 - Workshop for Writers presents Ask the Publishers April 10 - Station Open Mic April 20 - 22 - Write Time! Write Place! Write Now! The MWG Conference May 5 - Workshop for Writers presents To Blog or Not To Blog is No Longer a Question May 8 - Station Open Mic May 17 - SLWG Lecture Series presents Gerry Mandel August 25 – Writers in the Park

THE BLUE PAGE
Upcoming important info from The Scribe

In the next issue
Our goal is to make The Scribe a

literary magazine you'll look forward to
reading and be proud to share. Help us reach that goal by providing us your articles, opinion pieces, short fiction (1,500 words or less), and poems about the theme for the next issue: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR WRITERS. Please contact News@stlwritersguild.org for additional information, if needed, or send your submissions by May 30.

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