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Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light; The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more, Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind. Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws. Ring out the want, the care the sin, The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good. Ring out old shapes of foul disease, Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace. Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be. - Alfred, Lord Tennyson
rePLAYing YOUr DreAmS
I am taking a test. My friend Alan is also taking the test. I look over and Alan has answered all 100 questions. I am trying as hard as I can, but I am moving very slowly. I have only done three. I feel horrible September 2008 Sound familiar? Many of us have recurring dreams like the one above, which Veronica submitted to David Jenkins’s Web site Dreamoftheweek.com. Waking up unsettled, we try to forget the dream, only to feel horrible again the next time we see it. Jenkins, a professional “dreamworker” with a Ph.D. in Psychology, takes a different approach. He advised Veronica to tell her dream from Alan’s perspective. What she came up with made her feel better: I am taking a test. Veronica is taking it also. It’s very easy for me, and I just whip through the questions. I see that Veronica is doing it very slowly and that she is very upset. She thinks there’s something wrong because she isn’t working as fast as me or the other class members. She’s going at her own pace. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no hurry. All she has to do is keep at it. Replaying a dream from another’s perspective is only one of many dream-improvement techniques that Jenkins, our featured speaker for the December meeting, has to offer. Others, including bringing in a new character, supplying back story, and adding dialogue to confrontations, sound a lot like what we do when we write fiction. So bring a dream to share—and perhaps that scene you’ve been developing—to Pasta Pelican, 2455 Marina Square Drive in Alameda. The meeting, a brunch this time, will be held on Sunday, December 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. CWC members and guests pay $17 each, checks to be received by December 3. Otherwise, the charge at the door is $20 per person. Please mail your check to Berkeley Branch, P.O. Box 15014, Oakland, CA 94614. - David Baker
Table S u Contents S p e c i a l of p p l e m e n ta ry e d i tion
Replaying Your Dreams David Baker 1 The View From the Helm AL Levenson 2 Member News Anne Fox 3 Member Spotlight 3 Interview With Alon Shalov AL Levenson 4-6 Seeds of a Series Bill Reinka 6 The Road to Lulu: One Writer’s Story of Self-Publishing Risa Nye 7-8 Tidbits 9 Who Cares? What’s the Point? AL Levenson 10
Saturday, December 7, 2008, from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Pasta Pelican, 2455 Marina Square Drive in Alameda.
The View From The Helm
A few weeks ago I received an email from a member asking for Write Angles submission guidelines. Of course, new contributors are most welcome, and the inquiry prompted me to think about the Write Angles editorial vision. What is the conversation between the editors and the readers? What sort of content do we want? What is the personality of our newsletter? A read of the last few issues of Write Angles will reveal our preference for articles about writing: tips and tricks for writers, the writer’s experience, reflective pieces, and provocative conversations. We want to hear from Write Angles readers about what inspired them at writers’ conferences and workshops. What writing books prompted a breakthrough or experimental style? What is the experience of writing? Share. Inspire us. Please. We will to continue to explore the changes in publishing, changes with all the subtlety of an earthquake. Tremors occur with the frequency of the deadlines of writers’ magazines. The definition of what constitutes traditional publishing seems to change with each tick of a clock. New publishing models and their hybrids add options and confusion. * * *
The mechanical requirements for submissions to Write Angles are straightforward. A page of the newsletter is 500 to 550 words. We like pieces that are fractions or multiples of a page. Please submit only electronically to CalwritersClub@GMail.com. Put “WA submission” in the subject line. Email text as an email attachment or in the body of an email. Format as you would submit to any publication: double-spaced, one-inch margins, serif font. Author’s name, email address, article title and word count in top right corner of first page. We prefer indented paragraphs. If your contribution is time-sensitive, deadline is the 15th of the month. We welcome a line or two about the author. How we would love to see a greater variety of bylines in our newsletter. Isn’t it time we got to see yours? * * *
In my first days as your president, I learned there was a yearning to enhance the social nature of the club. Club meeting times are advertised as 10 a.m., but we deliberately don’t call to order until 20 or 30 minutes after that. And I have noticed that people are mixing with pals and reaching out to newcomers. In February we will return to the custom of a joint meeting with the Mt Diablo branch. And our December meeting will be the most social of the year. We’ll have brunch and plenty of time to visit before our speaker, David Jenkins, presents a provocative hour about the stuff of dreams. Please put this event on your calendar and be part of the growing energy and vitality of the Berkeley Branch. Invite a friend to be at the last meeting before the oldest branch of the oldest writers’ club in the country begins its centennial year. - AL Levenson, President
Lucille Bellucci’s story, “The Country Squire,” was accepted by Literary Cottage for the anthology, My Dog Is My Hero, to be produced by Adams Media, a Division of F + W Publications, Inc. September 2008 For the week of November 9, Writin’ on Empty , by Risa Nye, et al., ranked #6 on the best-seller list of Paperbacks--Bay Area. (See Risa’s piece about the book’s journey to publication on pages 7-8.) Attention, Members: Because your successes inspire your fellow members, we want to know what you’ve done, what you’re doing, what you plan to do. Has your work been published? Has an agent signed you on? Is your book under consideration by a publisher? Are you teaching a writing course? Have you been mentioned in the news? Perhaps you’re scheduled as a speaker or to be interviewed or to present at a writers’ conference or have done any of these things already. Please send the good news to Anne Fox, email@example.com.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT NEVER ENOUGH: A Love Story for our Times
When California Writers Club member Dave Sawle began work-shopping his screenplay, Never Enough: Sex, Money and Parking Garages in San Francisco, at the Saturday support/critique writers’ meetings a few years ago, he never anticipated that life would imitate art. His screenplay deals with the destructive culture of consumerism that pervades American lives and the subsequent shifting of values in the aftermath of great material loss. His theme is highly relevant in today’s struggling economic climate, though he simply sought to write a love story that asks, What would happen to a relationship when the bubble of excess – the result of our never enough society – bursts? While Dave was developing the material, Ray Faraday Nelson was a critical and generous contributor, suggesting scene ideas that Sawle incorporated into the work. Over the course of four years he reworked the material, always striving for authenticity and truth, and always bringing revised versions to the Saturday meetings. Satisfied with the work, he turned his efforts to producing and directing the film, gathering a cast that includes Barbara Niven, Stan Rutledge and Barbara Crampton. Shot in the Bay Area on HD video, Never Enough is a prescient film that is at once heartbreaking and funny. The film is currently available on DVD at Amazon.com. For more information go to neverenoughthemovie.com. - C. Abasta December 2008 Write angleS 3
interview with ALOn ShALOv
Alon Shalev is the moderator of the Berkeley Writers Circle, a writers’ critique group that meets weekly in Berkeley. Alon’s second novel, OilspillDotcom, will be produced by Booksurge, the print-on-demand (POD) arm of Amazon.com. Alon and I exchanged emails and met for coffee to talk about his route to publication. AL: OilspillDotcom is actually your second POD. Let’s begin with your first novel, A Gardener’s Tale. Did you try to interest an agent in that book, how did that go and what made you decide to go for a print-on-demand publisher? ALON: I did try to find an agent. But I was living in Israel at the time, and no agent in the US or UK wanted to deal with an overseas author. AL: Who did you choose to produce the book as POD, and why did you choose them? ALON: Xlibris produced A Gardener’s Tale, and they did a great job in producing a physically attractive book – no complaints. AL: When was that? ALON: End of ’00. AL: What was the result? ALON: Sold almost 200 books. AL: Given that you were not around to market it, that doesn’t sound too bad. ALON: I was lucky. The book covered the Pagan religion, and I was able to get an endorsement from the pagan high priestess in England, which allowed me to market it to pagan groups. For about 20 minutes I was 38th on the Amazon bestseller list. AL: What did you learn from that experience? What did you do right? What mistakes did you make? ALON: The book, released in paperback, was priced at $18, much too high for an unknown author. Low sales figures also mean no agent is going to take notice and provide a route to a traditional publisher AL: When OilspillDotcom was ready to market, did you seek out an agent? What was your experience? ALON: I contacted fifty or sixty agents all together. I went to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in the summer of ’07. I did meet some agents. Some asked to see the complete manuscript. During that period there were three agents that asked for a sixty-day exclusive. All rejected the manuscript with a simple form letter. AL: Did you give up on finding an agent, or simply get impatient? ALON: Impatience was certainly part of it. I gave myself a year to find a deal, and it didn’t happen. I also began to have second thoughts about the marketing process with a conventional publisher. In that world you have a very short time to make your splash. If you don’t have any momentum in two or three months, they forget about you. AL: Did you ever try the small, independent publisher? December 2008 Write angleS 4
ALON: No AL: Any reason? ALON: I don’t know much about them. My impression is they each select a very narrow market to specialize in. AL: Was there a particular reason you decided to try a different POD publisher? ALON: Xlibris sets the price on their books. As I mentioned, I think that worked against me. Both iUniverse and Booksurge suggested several price ranges, and I set the price. September 2008 AL: Which is? ALON: $13.99 AL: Much less. ALON: Pricing is a balance between sales and profits. At this stage, I am interested in as many readers as possible. I would like to develop a following for my future books. I am prepared to invest every dollar Oilspilldotcom earns in additional marketing. AL: What POD publishers did you consider? What were the advantages and disadvantages of the final choices? ALON: My research narrowed it down to two companies: iUniverse and Booksurge. I was particularly impressed with the former: their promotions, a book about how to go through the entire process, including book promotion, and a number of awards and benefits that you can strive for. This includes the important incentive of having your book on the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble. Booksurge also has a number of benefits. They allow the author to set the price of the book (the lower list price, the smaller the royalty per book) and they have a solid marketing support, including an ongoing webinar series with marketing experts, all this at no charge to their authors. But if I am honest, what swayed me was the decision by Amazon.com to only list POD books published with their own subsidiaries. I had almost signed with iUniverse, when I had dinner with the author, D. Patrick Miller (My Journey Through the Plant World) and heard of Amazon’s controversial decision. Amazon.com owns Booksurge, and I cannot see any chance for success of a POD book without the ability to sell on the biggest virtual bookstore. Whenever I hear about a book that might interest me, I go to Amazon.com and check out the reviews and the price. AL: What is the status of OilspillDotcom today? ALON: It is with my editor. I am aiming for a January ’09 release. AL: What are your expectations, your sales goals? ALON: I set a goal of 500 books in three months. I have heard the general rule is to aim for 5,000 in the first year. This would be a dream scenario for me. I believe 500 an attainable goal for the time I have to invest. AL: Are there writers who ought to prefer POD? ALON: If you are planning a memoir directed at a selective circulation, i.e., family and friends, POD is surely the way to go. It is also advantageous for people who are giving lectures and public-speaking engagements. I also think December 2008 Write angleS 5
the how-to type of books are better via POD if you are giving workshops. AL: And if you are after a wide audience? ALON: You can certainly try the traditional route and try to get noticed by an agent. But if that doesn’t happen, POD is an option. Some success with your self-published book may actually be the way you get the attention of a publisher or agent. Christopher Paolini (aged 16 or 17 then) and his parents took six months out to travel the country and market his self-published Eragon, the first of a tremendously successful trilogy. There are numerous other examples AL: Have we talked about all the important steps in the process? ALON: The self-publishing author cannot afford to minimize the importance of editing. The manuscript is not really finished until it has been cleared by a professional editor. That probably means a paid professional. With A Gardener’s Tale, I really could not afford professional editing, and I had a lot of good feedback from my writers’ group. When OilspillDotcom was in its final draft, I decided to part with the cash for a professional editor, and I am sure I’ve done the right thing. AL: Thanks for sharing your experience with us. ALON: You can continue to follow how it plays out on my blog, Countdown to a Novel Published. Go to oilspilldotcom.blogspot.com.
SEEDS OF A SERIES
A few years ago, Judith Greber, AKA Gillian Roberts, told the CWC Berkeley Branch how she wrote as a “stand alone” what would become the opening in her entertaining Amanda Pepper series. Shortly thereafter, female detectives suddenly became the rage. Greber got the good news that her publisher wanted to make Amanda the focus of a new series. The bad news was that Amanda was an English teacher—not a good job for a series heroine. “You can only find so many bodies in the auditorium,” Greber told us. What’s more, Amanda was not available to solve crimes during school hours. Obviously, the first installment is the most important in a series. If the first installment falls flat, it’s difficult to generate enthusiasm and sales for subsequent titles. But, beyond sparking interest, the first installment must also contain elements and character traits that will form the core of the overall series. Harry Potter could not have waited until the second book to discover his powers. Consider having your hero practicing tae kwon do even if he isn’t going to toss around any bad guys in the first book. You can’t suddenly make him a black belt in the fourth. Or have your heroine get her first job because she can translate Spanish commercial documents—when she’s racing around Buenos Aires five books from now, devoted readers will accept her linguistic skills. Still, it seems, a wildly popular series can stand almost anything. Arthur Conan Doyle resurrected Sherlock Holmes after killing him off. Readers didn’t care—they were just glad to have Holmes back. - Bill Reinka
The Long Road to Lulu: One Writer’s Story of Self-Publishing
My path to publication was more a labyrinth than a straight shot. Like many aspiring writers, I imagined beginning with a concept and ending with a guest shot on Oprah. What follows is a road map to Lulu and the world of print-on-demand publishing. Included are the roadblocks and switchbacks that I and my two co-editors encountered during our two-year odyssey with our anthology of essays, Writin’ on Empty: Parents Reveal the Upside, Downside, and Everything in Between When Children Leave the Nest. After researching literary agents and editors on PublishersMarketplace (a service of PublishersLunch, $20/month fee), my co-editors and I followed up by sending to agents our query letter and proposal, which had been vetted by Amy Rennert, a Bay Area literary agent whose workshop I had attended at Book Passage in Corte Madera. We got some nibbles but no serious bites, until I came to dread the sight of self-addressed return envelopes in my mailbox. And appearing almost at the speed of light were the “thanks but no thanks” e-mail responses, the rejection excuses complaining, for the most part, about the glut of anthologies and our lack of “big name” contributors. (After helping us, Amy also turned us down.) Months passed, and we wondered, what would be our options if we didn’t get any attention from agents or publishers? Around this discouraging time I attended a writers’ conference and learned about the world of print-on-demand. A spokesperson for Lulu was on a panel with a mainstream publisher and a literary agent. I paid close attention to the panel and especially to the Lulu presenter and brought the information back to my co-editors. (A well-known Bay Area writer gave a session at this workshop. I approached her afterwards to ask if she would write an essay for us. She begged off, citing her own in-progress book, but later agreed to write a blurb.) Nonetheless, we continued to send out innumerable queries by snail mail and e-mail, until one day, our impatience growing with all the waiting and getting turned down, the light came on: We would make the book ourselves. Yes! We checked out Lulu and iUniverse and a couple of other possibilities, finally choosing Lulu because of the cost for the service and the available distribution package. The process of simply uploading pdf files seemed straightforward. Also, we learned that Lulu has good online help, a lifeline for us. We liked the idea of having our book available through Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, and other large distributors. The cost of adding this package was under $100 and well worth it, as we would discover. Once we decided to go with Lulu, we had many decisions to make. Lulu gives you two options: you can publish under your own name (published by you), or you can use their name as publisher (published by Lulu), which we wanted to avoid. In some circles our book might be devalued with the Lulu name on it. Other considerations were financial: according to the Lulu Web site, if you publish as you (with your own ISBN), any money you make is called “Other Revenue.” Other Revenues are not subject to withholding and are not reported to the IRS. If you publish by Lulu, they provide the ISBN and will be known as the publisher of record; you earn December 2008 Write angleS 7
a royalty with each sale and there may be withholding. Sound confusing? It is. Online help from Lulu is the way to go. We chose to do business as No Flak Publishing and took care of the doing-business-as (DBA) paperwork ourselves. But before getting a cover design or applying for an ISBN number ($125 for a single ISBN through R.R.Bowker) and a bar code (an extra $25), we needed a peppier and more positive title than the one we were working with—After They’ve Gone. Our riffing on the theme of empty nests brought us to Writin’ on Empty, followed by a long subtitle in the current mode. Our new title inspired our designer to come up with a cover design that captured the mood and spirit of the essays in our book. She also did a mockup of a title page and chapter, in keeping with the look of the cover. Her design package included bookmarks with the book cover on the front and our blurbs and contact information on the back. The first printed version of our book was a slim volume indeed. We asked our layout guy to increase the size of the font (he chose the Mrs. Eaves font) and the leadings or spaces between the lines. Once he made the revisions, the book found its right size. We hired my sister, a freelance copyeditor, to go over the manuscript. Even with her close attention and ours—the vigilance of eight eyes—some mistakes made their way to the final layout, copyediting not being an exact science. Luckily, with Lulu and the nature of print-on-demand, we could easily make the corrections and upload another pdf. There is no extra charge to do this; however, Lulu strongly recommends that every time you make a revision, you order a proof copy, and you pay your cost (plus shipping) to do this. I am embarrassed to say that our main flaw was the failure to list our contributors’ names in alphabetical order, a problem that took three revisions to correct. We also missed the misspelling of an author’s name and left out a contributor’s bio. It could happen to anyone, right? The good news about self-publishing: We maintained control over the look and feel of our book, set the price point, and we are proud to say that people can buy it through Amazon and other large distributors. We are not involved in the fulfillment part of the process other than when we deliver books to local independent bookstores where we are reading. The not-so-good news: Being available through big-time distributors means that we enter into the wholesale market. Also, Lulu’s shipping fees are higher than anyone else’s, a determining factor for those searching us out on our Web site (www.writinonempty.com). They compare costs and order the book from somewhere else for less. Can’t say as I blame them. The most important lesson in all of this is that people like us can publish a lovely book and do it for the most part on their own terms. Despite a pile of rejections, the three of us kept on going and learned as we went along. Our frustrations with technology and alphabetical oversights notwithstanding, there is no greater feeling than walking by a bookstore and seeing our very own book in the window. -Risa Nye
hOme FOr the hOLiDAYS
According to the Lynette Evans column in the San Francisco Chronicle (ll/19/08), they are looking for short stories, no more than 250 words, to share with readers on Christmas Eve. Evans writes, “What does home for the holidays mean to you? Or, maybe not the holidays” but the special meaning of “home--whether a house, a neighborhood, a city or country. . . .Send your reflections of home, with photos if you have them, to firstname.lastname@example.org.” Include name, city, telephone number (not for publication) where they can reach you if they have questions. Deadline Dec. 10, 2008.
weStSiDe StOrY cOnteSt
Deadline: December 31, 2008 Prizes: Three prizes totaling $500.00 Submission Guidelines: westsidestorycontest.com Judge: Michael Walsh, winner of the 2004 American Book Award for Fiction Tatjana Greiner, Berkeley Branch member, sponsors this contest.
Meeting Time Change
The Saturday support/critique writers’ group will meet on Saturday, December 13th from 1 to 5 p.m. at Jack London Square, Oakland, inside Barnes & Noble Book Store at the Event Loft and Saturday, December 20th, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Rockridge Library.
WEB SITES FOR WRITERS
womenonwriting.com, WOW dklex.com, created by attorney David Koehser, who specializes in publishing law and copyrights. Free articles about such subjects as subsidiary rights, permissions and tricky contract clauses. Koehser publishes the Copyright & Publishing Law Newsletter, a free, well-written PDF newsletter without legal jargon. publaw.com, the creation of well-known publishing lawyer Lloyd Rich. Handy articles created just for authors who need to understand the legal aspects of publishing. Free newsletter is Publaw Update. copyright.gov, site of the U.S. Copyright Office. Clear explanations of copyright laws and direct links to copyright your own work.
WHO CARES? WHAT’S THE POINT?
Berkeley Branch Officers
President: AL Levenson Vice President: Dave Sawle Secretary: Evelyn Washington Treasurer: Ken Frazer Program: AL Levenson Membership: OPEN Hospitality: OPEN Children’s Contest: Lucille Bellucci Newsletter Editor: OPEN Copyeditor: Anne Fox Publicity: Linda Brown Webmaster: Stan Sciortino
One of the presenters at a recent writers’ conference, a writing teacher with a half-dozen published novels on her resume, told that on the last day of class she found a small box on her desk, elegantly wrapped and tied with a red ribbon. She unwrapped the package, hoping for something appreciative or at least humorous. She got both. Inside were two rubber stamps. One read, Who Cares? the other, What’s the Point? She went on to say that she’d written, Who Cares? or What’s the Point? on almost every story or essay submitted all year long. I printed these two steel questions and tacked them to my adage wall where I write. They stare at me with the ruler-wielding sternness of my third-grade grammar school teacher, Mrs. Whittaker. After the struggle with a first draft with its flaws in structure and dialogue, and before I begin the tedious business of a second draft, I imagine that two red block-letter questions are inked onto the top of page one: Who Cares? What’s the Point. I can always get by Who Cares? After all, “I” care. That’s one; there must be someone else. But what is the point? I don’t get to bargain with myself over that one. What do I want my readers to think about? what do I want them to feel? what do I want them to take away from my story? Does my story have a value, or is it a clever little exercise? I don’t always like my answers, but they needle me to try harder. What do you think about before starting on the second draft? - AL Levenson
The CALIFORNIA WRITERS CLUB is dedicated to educating members and the public-at-large in the craft of writing and in the marketing of their work. For more information, visit our Web site at www.berkeleywritersclub.org. Copyright © 2008 by the California Writers Club, Berkeley Branch. All rights reserved. Write Angles is published 10 times a year (September June) by the California Writers Club, Berkeley Branch on behalf of its members. CWC assumes no legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, process, product, method or policy described in this newsletter.
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