SD/PEN Invites SDWEG to Networking Event: June 21, 6:30 PM

Mark your calendar! The San Diego Professional Editors Network annual networking event is scheduled for June 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the San Diego County Health Services Complex.

They have once again invited members of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild (SDWEG) to join them for another fun evening of noshing and networking! Enjoy snacking on tasty hors d’oeuvres and desserts while chatting with your fellow SD/PEN members and meeting some writers from SDWEG. There will be drawings and games for prizes!

Don’t forget to bring your business cards!


Event Details

Thursday, June 21, 2018
6:30–8:30 p.m.
San Diego Room
County Health Services Complex
3851 Rosecrans Street
San Diego 92110

Image credit: Burst

Wanted: Developmental Editor/Reader/Coach

The Guild’s inbox contained a request from a local author who is looking for a gifted storyteller to help with character development, plot, pacing, etc. Someone who has worked extensively with fiction and is well versed in the young adult genre.

If you are interested, contact and include the term “Developmental Editor/Reader/Coach” in the subject line.

Photo credit: Drew Coffman

Expired: Las Vegas Writers’ Conference 2018


Only 13 Days left to get the Early Bird Rate for the 2018 Las Vegas Writers’ Conference to be held April 19-21, 2018.

Register by Jan 31, 2018, for $425.00 ~ As of Feb 01, 2018, the cost will be $500.00

The $75.00 you save can pay for your Thursday night room at the Tuscany!

The 2018 Faculty has been booked and you can check them out at: ~ Las Vegas Writers’ Conf. 2018 Faculty

Conference 2018 will be held at the beautiful Tuscany Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Check out our special group rates and if you book, be sure to use the “Group Code.”

Note: You must book your room by March 31, 2018, to procure the special rate. ~ Tuscany Hotel

Thank you for considering Las Vegas Writers Conference.

The Henderson Writers’ Group and the Las Vegas Writers’ Conference are grateful for:
“The Las Vegas Review-Journal is the proud media sponsor for the 2018 Las Vegas Writer’s Conference.”
And the generosity of:
“This project is funded in part by a grant from the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.”

Where Does SDWEG Fit in the Writers’ World?

Occasionally members of the Board hear from writers who want to know why they should consider joining the Guild instead of other writers’ groups in the area. Below is a response we find useful to answer the question of why we think joining the Guild is a great first step, though not the only step, local writers should consider.

San Diego offers a number of organizations dedicated to writers, including the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, the oldest such organization in the area.

Our organization currently has 180 members, among whom are poets and prose writers, fiction and nonfiction writers, memoirists and instructional textbook authors, some published and others still working on their craft. We offer monthly meetings with presentations dealing with both the art and business of writing with a Marketing Support Group meeting the hour before for those interested in learning what works and what doesn’t.

Each meeting also offers networking time and an opportunity for published authors to display and sell their books. Other benefits include a manuscript review program, participation in local author events, an opportunity to submit work to our annual anthology, and we are exploring the possibility of offering workshops on topics of interest to members.

Other organizations for writers have different objectives.

San Diego Writers, Ink, for example, offers classes and read-and-critique groups for both members (at a reduced rate) and non-members.

Publishers and Writers of San Diego focuses its meetings strictly on the business side of publishing books.

A number of organizations offer classes in writing, among them OASIS, Grossmont College, Grossmont Adult Education, and OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at San Diego State University.

We believe that San Diego Writers and Editors Guild is a great first place to get involved with the local writing community. Fortunately, it isn’t a question of either/or. Many of us also take part in classes at San Diego Writers, Ink and OASIS, and several of us are also members of Publishers and Writers of San Diego.

If you are a member of the Guild, but you haven’t yet renewed for 2018, do so before December 31 to take advantage of the $5 discount for early bird renewals.

If you haven’t already joined the Guild, consider doing so here.

photo credit: Hans-Peter Gauster

From the Mailbag: Book Publishing 1-2-3 on January 13

From Our Mailbag

The following message comes from Hilary Holley, librarian at the Oceanside Public Library, inviting Guild members to attend an event at the library.

The Oceanside Public Library is hosting an event on Saturday, January 13 called Book Publishing 1-2-3. The program will be presented by Laurie Gibson, a San Diego-based editor who has served more than 150 first-time authors during her career. Her presentation is an information-packed publishing seminar, spiced with stories and tips to empower and inspire writers of all levels.

Gibson will offer insight into today’s dynamic book business, including tips for connecting with editors and agents and creative ideas to help writers refine their craft, as well as practical thoughts on book promotion. Other highlights include writing prompts and a four-page handout.

This program is free and open to the public. It will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, January 13 in the 2nd floor Foundation Room of the Civic Center Library (330 N. Coast Hwy).


Hilary Holley
Librarian I | Oceanside Public Library
330 N. Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
Tel: (760) 435-5577

photo source: Ethan Hoover

From the Guild’s Mailbag

From Our Mailbag

From San Diego Writers, Ink. Many SDWEG members are also members of San Diego Writers, Ink, a great source for courses for writers. The first item below is not limited to SDWI members. The second item is limited to SDWI members. For more information about SDWI, check their website.

Seeking Volunteer: Wednesdays at Imperial Beach Library Writing Group

1st and 3rd Weds 5:30-6:30 p.m.  Lead a prompt group.  No experience necessary–we’ll train!  Please contact Kristen if you are interested at

Members’ Benefit: Participate in Local Author Showcase Oct 6th

We have scheduled the next Author Appreciation and Showcase at SDWI for the First Friday event at Liberty Station on October 6th.
This is an opportunity for writers to get their works in front of the eclectic buying public at Liberty Station and to meet and spend time with other published members of SDWI.

If you are interested in participating in October, please contact Kevin Smith at

You must be a member of SDWI to participate.  As usual, there will be wine and cookies, too.

Tips from The Write Practice

At the July Marketing Support Meeting, SDWEG Secretary, Laurie Asher, provided a handout of the top 10 pieces of book writing software according to Joe Bunting of The Write Practice. That list is included below with permission from The Write Practice. Note that the “I” in this post is Joe Bunting, not SDWEG webmaster.

No piece of writing software will write your book for you, but these ten will help. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

1. Google Sheets (Spreadsheet)

If you’d told me when I was first trying to become a writer that one of my most-used tools in my book writing software toolkit would be a spreadsheet, I would have told you I didn’t major in English to have to use a spreadsheet.

But now, as I’m finishing my seventh book, I realize that I’m using spreadsheets almost daily.

Spreadsheets allow you to get a sense of the elements of your book at a glance, and when you’re working on a 300-page document, distilling it down to useable information becomes very necessary.

You might use spreadsheets for:

Google Sheets is perfect for this because it’s free and you can quickly share your documents with your writing partners, editors, or beta readers to get feedback. Microsoft Excel is another great option, but for writers, I suggest Google Sheets.

Cost: Free!
Where to find it? Get started with Google Sheets here

2. Scrivener (Word Processor)

Scrivener is the premier book writing software. It is made by writers for writers. Scrivener’s “binder” view allows you to break up your book into chapters and sections and easily reorganize it. Project targets let you create word count goals and then track your progress daily. Its composition mode can help you stay focused by removing all the clutter. Plus, it allows you to format for publishing (e.g. on Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

There are some problems with Scrivener. Formatting is more complicated than it needs to be and collaborating isn’t easy, meaning it loses its effectiveness as soon as you bring on an editor. But it more than makes up for that by being so helpful in the early stages of the writing process.

In fact, we believe in Scrivener so much, we published a book about how creative writers can write more, faster using it. It’s called Scrivener Superpowers. If you’re using Scrivener or want to save yourself time as you learn how to use it for your creative writing, you can get Scrivener Superpowers here.

Cost: $45 for Mac, $40 for Windows
Where to find it: Get started with Scrivener for Mac here or with

Scrivener for Windows here.

You can get a copy of Scrivener here, or learn more about how to use the software with one of these resources:

3. Freedom (Productivity App)

One question writers always ask me is, “How can I stay focused enough to finish what I write?”

I have too many thoughts on this for this article, but as far as writing software to encourage focus, I recommend Freedom.

Freedom allows you to block your biggest distractions online, including both websites and mobile apps, for a set period of time. So when you mindlessly escape your book to scroll through Facebook, you’ll find the site won’t load.

You can also schedule recurring sessions, so that at a scheduled time (e.g. Mondays from 6 am to 10 am), you won’t be able to access the sites on your blocklist, even if you try.

There are other apps like this that we’ve written about before, notably Self-Control for Mac and StayFocused for Windows. But Freedom goes further, allowing you to block sites on both your computer and your phone, and enabling recurring sessions.

You can learn more about how writers can get the most out of Freedom on our review here.

Cost: $29 / year for Pro version, which I use and recommend (Free trial available)
Where to find it: Get started with Freedom here

4. Google Docs (Word Processor)

While Scrivener is the best book writing software, once you get to editing and getting feedback, it begins to fall short.

That’s why Google Docs has become my second go-to piece of book writing software. It’s free, very easy to use, and requires no backups since everything is in the cloud.

Best of all are its collaboration abilities, which allow you to invite your editor to the document and then watch as he or she makes changes, tracked in suggestion mode, and leave comments on your story (see screenshot below).

Cost: Free!
Where to find it: Get started with Google Docs here

5. Vellum (Book Formatting/Word Processor)

If you want to turn your book into an eBook, it’s not that hard. Scrivener, Word, Pages, they all can make eBooks. But that doesn’t mean they’ll look good. In fact, it takes a lot of skill and effort to make an eBook look good on any of those word processors. That’s why I love Vellum so much.

Vellum picks up where Scrivener, Word, and Pages leave off, giving you a tool to make great looking eBooks every time.

The most important part of this is the previewer (see the image below), which lets you see how each formatting change or book edit you make will appear on Kindle, Fire, iPhone, Nook, and other eReaders.

It also has stripped-down, option-based formatting, which is perfect for designing eBooks.

I really love this app!

UPDATE: Vellum recently expanded into formatting for paperback books! I haven’t tried it yet but it looks awesome!

Cost: $199 for eBook generation, $249 for Paperback Formatting
Where to find it: Get started with Vellum here

6. Microsoft Word (Word Processor)

Again: no piece of book writing software is going to write your book for you. If you’re looking for the next “shiny new toy” to help you write your book, it might be an excuse to avoid doing the hard work of writing.

Most of us learned how to use computers by using Microsoft Word, or a program like it. Word gets the job done. Sure, Scrivener is a little better for books, but I wrote my first book on Word and it’s fine.

I wrote a long review of the pros and cons of using Word to write books—the main problem is that as your document grows, it becomes more and more difficult to work with, whereas with Scrivener, it becomes easier—but the point is, if Word is what you have, don’t let that stop you from finishing your book.

As Jeff Elkins said in his review of Word, “If you aren’t already putting in the hard work to be the kind of writer you want to be, it doesn’t matter what new writing software you invest in. It is not going to help.”

Cost: $69 / year from Amazon (includes Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and other Microsoft software)
Where to find it: You can get Microsoft Word here

7. Ulysses (Word Processor)

When I’m writing for a long time, I like to get up and go for a walk. Sometimes, I wish I could continue writing while I walk. Other times, I come up with an idea while I’m walking, type it up on my phone, and then want to easily move what I wrote to my laptop without having to go through the hassle of emailing it back and forth to myself.

That’s where Ulysses comes in.

Ulysses is a word processor for Mac that allows you to sync between all your devices, so you have what you need wherever you are. Scrivener recently released their iOS app which allows you to do this as well, but the process is clunky and requires you to purchase both the desktop and iOS apps. Ulysses’s sync makes the process much more seamless.

Like Scrivener, it has a binder-like sidebar that allows you to move documents around. Ulysses is not designed specifically for books so it takes a little configuring to make it work for you, but once you have it set up the way you want it’s very intuitive.

And while I hate Markdown, I actually like the paired-down formatting options Ulysses gives. Overall, I’m not going to convert from Scrivener to Ulysses any time soon, but I think it’s a great option for most writers.

Cost: $45
Where to find it: App store, or here (Mac only)

8. Microsoft Excel (Spreadsheets)

As Jeff Elkins says in his review of Microsoft Excel, it’s great, but “it’s a little like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. You will need only a small fraction of its capability.”

If you have Excel and love it, great. Otherwise, use Google Sheets, especially if you’re sharing your sheet with a collaborator or editor.

Cost: $69 / year from Amazon (includes Word, Powerpoint, Outlook, and other Microsoft software)
Where to find it: You can get Microsoft Word here

9. Grammarly (Grammar/Spell Check)

“Can book writing software replace an editor?” asks Sue Weems in her review of Grammarly. “Nope. But it can help you improve your grammar and readability.”

If you struggle with grammar, sentence structure, spelling, or even writing style, Grammarly can help. It goes far beyond your built-in spell-check.

You should still learn grammar skills, but Grammarly can help you start to see the patterns and grow as a writer.

There’s a free version that’s very good. It can even be installed into your browser or Word processor, so you can check your grammar wherever you write. The paid version, $139 a year, gives you additional support on sentence structure, style, and vocabulary.

Learn more about how writers can get the most out of Grammarly here.

Cost: Free! (Premium version is $139 / year)
Where to find it: Get started with Grammarly here

10. Hemingway App (Grammar/Style Checker)

Most writers think their sentences are easier to read than they are. You think you’re coming across clearly, that your writing makes sense, but then someone reads it and comes away with something totally different.

Hemingway App helps with that.

Hemingway App is a free website that checks readability. You can copy and paste your writing into the website’s input box. Then it will grade your writing based on your used of adverbs, passive voice, and sentences as units.

Hemingway App is useful, but even the best book writing software can’t replace a good editor.

Cost: Free!
Where to find it: Try out Hemingway App here

Freelance Editor Opportunity

From the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild Mailbag:

An educational non-profit that focuses on researching innovative approaches to education seeks a freelance editor. Once a week they produce an article to help educators learn new techniques to address our education system challenges. Each piece is between 400 and 700 words, will be published mostly on Forbes, with an occasional longer article.

If interested, contact Jabez Lebret directly at with rates for the work.


Editor Sought


The following message arrived in the Guild’s mailbox and is being provided to our members for information.

The Health Optimizing Institute, Del Mar, CA needs reference to an experienced editor for preparing the director’s manuscript for publication. Flexible hours, pleasant working conditions (your office or ours) and pay commensurate with experience and ability. No other duties, such as receptionist or clerical person, will interfere with your focus. This task will be interesting and well suited to a self-employed person. The director, a senior citizen, worked with Abraham Maslow, founder of the Human Potential Movement. He was also Chairman and Moderator of the groundbreaking Holistic Health conferences at UCSD, the first of their kind at a major U.S. university.

Call: David J. Harris at (858) 829-1337


Postal: Health Optimizing Institute
P.O. Box 1233
Del Mar, CA 92104

What Is Grammarly?


grammarly_logoHave you heard of Grammarly?

According to its website, “Grammarly is the world’s leading automated proofreader. It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations.”

And it’s free.

Or at least a version of it is free.

There are two ways to use the free version of this editing tool.

  • Upload the text you wish to check on the website. (Or you can use the grammar checker access offered by Jennifer Frost to paste text into a “check your text” box. Jennifer offers this option as part of her website of grammar tips and handy infographics to help remember the tips. Watch out for the “Deep Check” option which will take you to the Grammarly Premium version which has a cost.)
  • Download a free extension for Chrome or Safari that will check your text online as you type. The extension does not, however, check what you type offline, such as in Word documents.

There is a Premium version which comes at a subscription price ranging from $11.66 per month (if paid for annually) to $29.95 per month. If the Premium version looks like what you need, Grammarly offers a 30% discount for those who go through Jennifer’s website. Her website is also listed on the Resources page of the Guild’s website.

A caveat: no application to check grammar, spelling, or punctuation is foolproof. As an example, Grammarly highlighted the word “errors” and the comma that follows it in the first paragraph with the notation “improper comma between subject and verb.” Grammarly correctly notes the comma is between a noun and the verb that follows it, but the two words, “commas enhances,” are not subject and verb. Grammarly also offers the option to mark instances of apparent errors to be ignored.