November Program Features Anthology Launch

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

The SDWEG general member meeting on November 27 will be devoted to the release of The Guilded Pen, 6th edition. The book is the 2017 anthology of 48 short stories and essays, as well as 7 poems written by 36 SDWEG members.

Special thanks goes to Simone Arias and Ruth Leyse-Wallace as the anthology’s editors, and Marcia Buompensiero, managing editor.

At the November meeting, the 230-page, softcover anthology will be on sale for $15. The heart of the meeting will be readings of a number of the stories and poems by the authors. As noted in the Foreword, written by SDWEG member Johnathan Maberry, the anthology is “filled with dreams, with imaginings, with ‘what ifs’,” crafted by SDWEG members who range from novice writers to seasoned professionals. Especially appealing is the extraordinary array of topics in the anthology. A small sample includes a story about a Vietnam pilot, Indians fighting slave hunters, a barber in Iran, a sexy senior, a day on an atomic sub, and a sci-fi tale of humans evolving into porpoises. This is just a taste of many fascinating reads. Enjoy!

What You Missed. . .

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

What You Missed... notes about our October speaker, by Mardie Schroeder

Our own Margaret Harmon conducted a charmingly fun evening of full audience participation with her “Literary Games” — that is, games designed to help us break through obstacles to our creativity and productivity as writers. The focus of our particular game was “Plotting to Succeed,” with Margaret reminding us that at the heart of literary plots are three basic conflicts: Man vs. Man; Man vs. Nature; or Man vs. Himself. To play Margaret’s game, we were to build a story around one of the following nine scenarios:

  1. A 10-year-old runs away from home.
  2. A 20-year-old quits college and leaves the US.
  3. A 30-year-old disappears, leaving spouse, kids, job, and friends.
  4. A 40-year-old decides to run for President of the United States.
  5. A 60-year-old starts a new business.
  6. A 22-year-old kills a best friend.
  7. A popular priest leaves his church.
  8. A clown never removes his makeup in public.
  9. An airline pilot refuses to drive a car.

We were then asked to describe our character in over-the-top, whatever-occurs-to-you details that would make the motive inevitable. With 10 minutes or so of silence, we all scribbled away. Then the hands went up as our intrepid authors offered to read their works. The result was that an astonishing variety of characters and story-lines were revealed.

But that’s not all. The next step was to bring in a helper character, as in “No one is an island.” And again, with 10 minutes of furious scribbling, we expanded our scenarios. The plots we created featured an abundance of mayhem and angst -- and quite a few laughs. Is there a new novel in the works? Only time will tell. (Visit

You Are Invited to Plot to Succeed

Margaret HarmonSDWEG member and successful fabulist, Margaret Harmon, will be our presenter at our October 23 meeting, and she invites us to join her at play.

All writers face fears. Beginners wonder if they have any talent and don’t know how to start a career. Successes face the Next Book Jinx. Writers without agents get boilerplate rejections. Writers with agents get nastily specific rejections. Fear is a given.

But fear strangles boldness—and thus originality—and paralyzes us when we’re ready to send finished work to agents and editors.

PLAYING defeats fear. Playing, we face no penalty, price, serious consequence, critic, or judge. We do what we WANT to! And discovering what we truly want is a crucial step in creating. PLAYING can turn paper scraps into a . . . who knows?

At our October 23rd meeting, we’ll play three of Margaret's Literary Games on plotting: PLOTTING TO SUCCEED. Bring a fast pen and paper or your favorite laptop/phone, wear comfy clothes, and prepare to laugh and joke and experiment and discover and . . . ?

What You Missed… notes on our September speaker

From the October issue of The Writer's Life

Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked, by Gregory Fournier, is an account of a serial killer in a small Michigan town where the author once lived. Fournier even knew the killer, as they lived a few houses apart.

John Norman Collins killed seven high school girls. He took his first victim to his uncle’s house when the uncle was on vacation and John was taking care of the dog. At that house he violated and brutally killed her.

The police looked for the serial killer for two years. But it was this first murder that brought Collins to trial. He received a life sentence without parole.

Another writer wrote a book about this case and fictionalized everything, changing the names of the victims, the murderer, etc. Greg decided his book would tell everything — a work that ended up being a 7-8 year obsession.

Fournier's book is in three parts: the victims, the court case. and the aftermath. He felt the structure of the book was very important, so he wrote each murder separately to provide essential details.

The parents of the first victim contacted Fournier to ensure he handled her story in a respectful manner. His meeting with them proved to be a highlight of his writing journey.

The Ypsilanti authorities wanted to hide the grisly story under a rug, so records were “lost.” But fortunately, Greg had a researcher in Ypsilanti who volunteered his services and found the newspaper stories and other reports that made it possible for the story to be written.

To promote the book, Fournier hired local publicist Paula Margulies (the author of The Tau of Book Publicity). She suggested he write a blog, which proved to be the most important advice he received. Initially reluctant, he began the blog, titled, and it helped him find and develop an audience. He now enjoys writing it. (You can contact Gregory at

What You Missed


by Mardie Schroeder

On June 26, Jonathan Maberry spoke to the Guild about crossing genres. In his opinion, a writer should be able to write about anything. He said that although there may not always be a big market for your genre, there is always a market for every subject.

Well-known authors Richard Matheson and Stephen King are just two examples of successful writers who have written everything from sci-fi, horror, fantasy, adult fiction, suspense, thrillers, and more.

You can have more than one genre in a book. Go with the mix you love to write about.

Different genres bring in different income streams. If you have two books in the same genre at the same time they compete with each other.

Jonathan writes eight hours a day. He makes a bullet outline and writes the ending, although he may change it. He does take breaks to write something entirely different. While writing a book he will do research for a new book.

Jonathan suggests bringing characters from your other books into new ones. He’s all for taking creative risks (experimentation) but respecting your audience.

If you write about what makes you excited to write, your passion will show through. Write a story that you would go out of your way to read.

If you write with the same passion you have for reading, you will write a good book.

Resources for Short Stories

Membership Benefit of the Month–Meetings

Each month, on the fourth Monday but adjusted for federal holidays when necessary, the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild invites speakers to share their experience as authors, editors, publishers, publicists, and marketing specialists. There is no cost to SDW/EG members for these presentations. A $5.00 fee is requested from non-members.

Speakers and programs in the past two years have included the following:

  • Neil Senturia and Barbara Bry, Humor in Business Writing
  • Charlene Baldridge, My Writing and All It Entails
  • Carolyn Wheat: Author of Suspense and Mystery
  • Richard Lederer: Celebrating Shakespeare
  • Margaret Harmon: Character-Building: Literary Games
  • Ingrid Croce and Jimmy Rock: the Jim Croce Story
  • Alan Kilpatrick, Ph.D.: Crafting Plays
  • Kathleen B Jones, Ph.D.: Biography and Hannah Arendt
  • Larry Edwards: How He Did It (Self-publishing and marketing); Using Social Media
  • Richard Lederer: Monsters Unleashed
  • Kathi Diamant: The Art of Giving and Receiving Critiques
  • Judy Reeves: “First Paragraphs and What They Must Do”
  • Hutton Marshall: editor of the San Diego Uptown News
  • Zoe Ghahremani: The Arc of a Writer
  • Bonnie ZoBell: Writing What Happens
  • Donna Eckstein: Telling Your Story
  • Alan Russell: Ghostwriting
  • Jefferson Parker: Writing a Hometown Story
  • Richard Lederer: American Presidents; Shakespeare
  • Martin Kruming: Legal Issues for Authors
  • Gered Beebe: Creative Non-Fiction
  • Marnie Freedman: 7 Essential Writing Tools
  • Dennis Lynch, Leslie Johansen Nack, and Lauri Taylor: Panel of Memoirists
  • Wendy Patrick: The Darker Side of Social Media
  • Antoinette Kuritz: The Business of Writing
  • David Wogahn: Metadata, Registration, and ISBMs
  • Jonathan LaPoma: Screenwriting
  • Christina Alexandra: Romance Writing
  • Diane Hinds: Marketing Your Books
  • Mark Reichenthal: Legal Issues for Authors
  • Penn Wallace: Marketing 101
  • Jonathan Maberry: Writing for MG and YA audiences

The Board of Directors is always interested to know of speakers members would like to invite for meetings. To suggest a speaker, send a message to

Expired: Jonathan Maberry Presents in June

Jonathan Maberry

Crossing genre lines is one of the most reliable paths to a successful and sustainable writing career. Not just within a single story (though that works, too!) but by stretching out into new areas, trying new things, and building yourself into a stronger and more diverse writer. New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry is the author of more than thirty novels and over a hundred short stories that cross and sometimes blur genre lines. He has published mysteries, thrillers, horror, noir crime, science fiction, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, alt-history, comedy, and more; and his market includes adults, young adult, and middle grade, as well as comics and nonfiction. Writing cross-genre and multi-genre fiction allows for greater creative freedom and draws on different demographics within the book-buying public. Maberry will share trade secrets for how to maximize your selling potential while growing as a writer and having fun.
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times bestselling author, 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and comic book writer. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and action, for adults, teens and middle grade. His works include the Joe Ledger Thrillers, X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate, Mars One, and many others. Several of his works are in development for film and TV. He is the editor of high-profile anthologies including The X-Files, V-Wars, Scary Out There, Out of Tune, Baker Street Irregulars, Nights of the Living Dead, and others. He lives in Del Mar, California. Find him online at
We meet at the San Diego County Health Services Center, 3851 Rosecrans, San Diego, CA 92110.
A Marketing Support Group meets at 5:30 p.m., before the regular meeting. Anyone interested in sharing or learning about marketing tips is welcome to attend.

What You Missed

From the June issue of the newsletter, by Mardie Schroeder

Jeniffer Thompson spoke on creating your personal branding. A brand helps you stand out. You need a logo and a style guide. Use the same typeface. Color is important. Everything should be consistent and recognizable. A brand will give you self-confidence. Consider having more than one domain name.

Begin with a strong platform and build on it. Connect the dots with everything you put out on social media so they work together. Drive all traffic to your website. Get people invested in you.

Make a five-year goal of what you want to do: write, teach, speak, conduct workshops, etc. At times you may have to redirect your course.

Write lots of content and share it with as many people as you can. Every time you speak or contribute an article include a bio with a link back to your website.

Jeniffer suggests updating your bios with different word lengths: 10, 25, 80, 180, and long form. You need a good head shot updated every few years (3 to 4 max).

Find out who your audience is, ask them what they want and need. Share personal stories. Get them interested in you.

Other authors are not your competition. They are influencers! Follow them, network with them, and subscribe to them. They will become part of your tribe.

Be consistent and passionate with everything you do. Budget your time and money, as well as your emotional resources. Remember that you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t bring you joy.

Connect with Jeniffer Thompson with your questions about branding! She is on Twitter @jeniffergrace; on Facebook at; and on Instagram @jeniffer_grace.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As per Jeniffer’s suggestion, the Board of Directors is currently compiling an SDWEG style guide to make use of our new logo (seen at the top of this email) and help direct our own branding strategy moving forward.

What You Missed

What You Missed

by Mardie Schroeder (from the May issue of The Writer's Life)

Penn Wallace’s presentation–Pyramid Marketing–was geared to those who want to quit their jobs and become professional writers. It takes five times of exposure before someone will see your work. You need to commit to two hours every day for marketing: Facebook, emails, tweets, going to meetings, readings, book shows, etc.

Build Your Brand: Find your target audience. Ask your readers what they want. Make a loyal fan list and get feedback from beta readers. Tailor your books to what your readers want. Become one of them. Penn was surprised to learn that 60% of his readers are female.

Start Marketing Early: Use your social media outlets to build a buzz about your book. Keep your readers involved with how your book is coming along.

Build An Author Brand: Have a collection of personality traits, attitudes, and values that your brand showcases on a regular basis to help connect with a certain audience segment. Visualize this as someone you know.

Action Items: Join the writer’s community–critique groups, online communities, publish a blog (this is where you sell your books), and connect it to your website. Keep your readers coming back with updates on your writing and with personal anecdotes. Start an email list with 100 loyal followers and build it to 1,000.

Spend Where Necessary: Hire specialists to proofread and to create an interesting cover that draws the reader in and that is relevant to the story.

Cross-Promotions: Ask for author interviews, promote others’ books on your blog, put the first chapter of similar authors’ books in the back of your book, put a paragraph in the back of each book asking for reviews and sign-ups for readers’ lists.

Wrap Up: Write a good book. The best way to market your book is to publish another book. Don’t publish the first book until the third book is done, then write like hell to finish the fourth book! Get five books on Amazon. Track your sales. Never give up. You have to blow your own horn. For a complete PowerPoint presentation of Marketing 101, go to

What You Missed

From the April issue of The Writer's Life.

by Mardie Schroeder and Ruth Leyse-Wallace.

After a colorful account of his history in publishing, contracting, and law (which included acting as in-house attorney for the publisher of the “For Dummies” series), March speaker Mark Reichenthal gave members and guests a lot to think about – which may or may not lead to consulting with an attorney. Mark stressed two main subjects in his talk.

1) Copyrighting: For $35 or $55, it’s the most powerful tool against anyone else having control over your work. Anything that’s fixed in a hard format is copyrighted. You own it. You control it. Go to and fill out the form online.

The government will walk you through the easy process. You can register for copyright after the fact, but it preferable to do it within three months of publication. Processing may take a while, but a certificate of copyright will be issued to the author. This will serve as protection in case the author ever needs to file a lawsuit for infringement of his work.

A title cannot be copyrighted, nor can facts, recipes, concepts, or ideas.

Mark cautioned that you must not assume you can use anything off the internet. Giving credit is meaningless – you must get permission.

2) Contracts: Whether written or oral, they are similar. An agreement is a bargain for exchange. Be careful what you sign up for in a publishing contract. Make a term contract (ex. 5 years) with reversion of rights and termination provisions. Remember that there is always a divorce at the end of the term. This protects your rights. Get everything down in writing. Understand everything in the contract.

If you sign with a publisher, it typically takes 12-15 months to publish a book. They will print, publish, and sell your work. You get a royalty percentage of the net profit. These are considered primary rights.

If you want to make a movie of your work, put it in large print, audiobook, or ebook format, or release it in a foreign language, this is a subsidiary right, and most of the time the publisher is not the one doing it. Mark cautioned against giving publishers rights they can’t do anything with.

The main differences between self-publishing vs. traditional are that you get the money and control but not the distribution in self-publishing, and in traditional publishing, you don’t get the money or the control, but don’t have to worry about distribution.

For more information, or to contact Mark with additional copyright or contract questions, see