NATIONAL WRITERS ASSOCIATION LOS ANGELES DECEMBER 2009
NWALA Member Takes Expensive Ride
Money Well Spent? By Mary L. Ports & Tom Howard
At our last communal gathering of 2009, award winning writer and longtime NWALA member, Marion Rosen, shared some of the trials, tribulations and holes in her check book involved in publicizing her most recent work, World War II memoir, The Kid From Pittsburgh. Over the years, Marion, who modestly considers herself a “mid-list writer,” has had her suspenseful story of an abducted teen, Don’t Speak to Strangers published in five languages, has sold the movie rights to her first mystery, Death by Education, and turned her journal entries (made during a horrible year being treated for and recovering from cancer) into a highly popular book entitled Dance Like Nobody’s Watching. Over time, another story was beckoning. Her husband, Morrie, now 85, had shared anecdotes of his war experience as a private/ radio tech/ forward observer, which earned him two purple hearts while fighting valiantly in the third and ninth divisions in North Africa, Italy, and France. Marion decided to focus on his story. She teased out of her husband as many details as possible about both his harrowing war adventures and difficult childhood with a mean father who sent him at age 13 to a reform school. Another fantastic part of Morrie’s story comes at the end of the war, when he was part of Cecil B. Demille’s documentary filming of the opening of Dachau concentration camp in Germany, where Morrie translated Yiddish for the US Army doctors, nurses, and aides helping the battered victims of the Nazis. continued on next page
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With much time, effort and work, The Kid From Pittsburgh was ready for publication. After some research, Marion decided to hire a Santa Barbara publicist, who, according to his Web site, got many writers nominated for awards and brought their books to the attention of Oprah and other media giants. The publicist assured Marion that World War II was a hot topic and declared that his fee for a four month campaign (from July 1 to Nov 1) would be $15,000. In addition, he would need Ms. Rosen to ship 100 copies of her book to him. Diving right in, Marion sent the check and the books as requested. The publicist suggested she add her new book to her Web site and put in an excerpt, which she promptly did. He sent info and the book around to numerous contacts on his campaign launch list to 148 nationwide radio, TV and print media. This included the Atlanta Jewish Times, the Saturday Evening Post, Family Circle, Reader’s Digest, AARP, and NPR and other radio stations. A while later he was able to supply Marion with quotes from celebrity readers and some nibbles from radio talk shows for interviews. One quote from Hall of Fame basketball hero, Bob Cousy said, “The Kid from Pittsburgh is a book I just couldn’t put down. Marion Rosen’s biography on her husband is a slam-dunk.” There were other supportive quotes that could now be added to www.MarionRosen. com, one from a retired Colonel and another from filmmaker, Roger Corman. Over the summer, while Marion was undergoing a stressful move to a new home, she was interviewed on several
radio programs, made relatively easy as they were done by phone and required no travel expense. There was a 30-minute interview with Boston radio host, Jordon Rich, a 20-minute interview with Frankie Boyer of KELT in Ventura, a 40-minute interview with Donna Seebo at KKNW in Seattle, Washington and another with Alice Hornbaker from WMKV in Cincinatti, Ohio. All hosts had read the book and spoke well of Marion’s writing. The Southern California Association of Book Publicists (who deal mostly with self-published authors) had received Marion’s book from the publicist and voted it “their most inspirational book of the year.” A very good review also came through from the Midwest Book Review, which is used by librarians. The publicist continued to generate a flurry of e-mails. He was continuing to send out notices and contacts, but some did strike our beleaguered writer as a bit weird. Magazines such as Older Americans and Active Seniors made sense, but why alert magazines such as American Baby, Adoption Today, Children’s Voice or Memphis Parent? Was the publicist sitting at his computer in his expensive, silk Neiman Marcus pajamas, sipping expensive cognac and just tapping buttons any which way to make himself look busy? Were his lists all canned, used repeatedly for each new, eager-writer client? Was his work really worth 15,000 hard-earned
American dollars? After all the fanfare, Ms. Rosen had the sobering feeling that perhaps her publicist had gotten the better part of the deal in the end. When the publicist presented his proposed fee for several more months of continued publicity, she decided, this time, to keep the rubber band around her checkbook. The next few months are filled with suspense for Marion. Now that all these seeds of publicity have been sown, it remains to be seen if more copies of Kid will fly off the shelves into the hands of eager readers. Ironically, friends call occasionally from far-flung airports to report excitedly that they saw one or another of Marion’s books in the window or display case of an airport bookstore. “Great!” Marion says. “Which book?” Their answer now has a double entendre for our beloved writer. “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching.” Photos from top, l-r: Joe Panicello with daughter Jo Ann Colton, visiting from Evergreen, Colorado; Barri Clark and Gwen Adams; Madelyn Beck; Pam Hagar and Mary L. Ports; Jack Clubb; Jokki and Don Peyer; Thaine Allison. Others in attendance were Wanda Weiskopf, Jaime Pickell, Warren Volpe and his wife Andrea, Arturo Ruiz, Tom Howard, and LaVonne Taylor.
Writing as Fast as I Can
On January 16, 2010, at our next luncheon meeting at Denny’s, we’ll do a writer’s showcase, as is our seasonal tradition. Come prepared, if you would like, to read a selection, for three to five minutes, of your work or that of a favorite writer. It should be fun! Speaking of fun, real crazy fun, I recently took up a bizarre challenge, to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, “thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon” described on the fascinating ten-year-old Web site, www.nanowrimo.org [Ed Note: A writeup of this contest appeared in VIEWS November 2008.] As fast as I could, I wrote 16 chapters of Youareit, a modern fictional tale, set in Hollywood, of a pianist-songwriter happily building his career, despite obstacles. Alas and alack, by the November 30 deadline, I only had 20,235 words and had to temporarily admit defeat. I had quadrupled however, my admiration for the task of writing a novel and writing it was actually enjoyable, not a torture. My, my! You need a plot, subplots, interesting, complex characters, and descriptive details — and I wasn’t sure if I had any of those. My one secret reader (BC) said what I wrote was “surprisingly coherent.” Is that a compliment or not? Next question: would a publisher be as lenient? Anyway, there must be a lot of mad “writers” out there, all around the world. As of Nanowrimo’s midnight November 30 deadline, 32,000 folks had submitted some type of 50,000 word novel! Hello! Does anyone actually read all of that? I have been reading Marion Rosen’s well-paced mystery, Death by Education (St. Martin’s Press, 1993), which I picked up at the end of her excellent presentation to our group on November 21, 2009. Thank you, Marion, for a great talk and also for setting an example of excellent, absorbing writing. As for whether to finish my “novel,” I may have to now let it sit, especially as I don’t know myself what happens next. Hopefully, ideas and plot twists will marinate through the holidays. After that, I will give myself a more sane deadline to finish such a demanding project. Maybe before we wash away in December of 2012? Speaking of 2012 and books, while the current apocalyptic film was being produced by Colombia Pictures, a creative fictional novel called Twelve was also being written by William Gladstone (Vanguard, 2009) pointing toward 2012 as a time of optimistic growth and change. Personally I prefer the book’s vision. While this year NWALA will not be meeting for Christmas, I extend my heartfelt wishes to all for Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! erald able ook ward. My Best to you, This prize, consisting of a $1,000 award, publication, and 25 copies of the book, Tom Howard will be awarded annually by Silverfish Review Press for a book-length manuscript of original poetry by an author who has not yet published a full-length collection. There are no restrictions on the kind of poetry or subject matter; translations are not acceptable. The winner will be announced in March 2010. Submission Guidelines: WRITER’S 1. Extended deadline: December 31, 2009. SHOWCASE 2. A $20.00 reading fee must accompany the manuscript. Please make January 16, 2010 checks payable to Silverfish Review Press. Come prepared to read 3. Manuscripts should be at least 48 pages in length. Clean photocopies are ac3 to 5 minutes of ceptable. The poet’s name should not appear on the manuscript. Include a sepayour own work rate title page with author’s name, address, and phone number. or the work of a writer you admire. 4. Poems may have appeared in periodicals, chapbooks, and anthologies but JOIN US AT 2:00 p.m. should be acknowledged. No changes in the manuscript will be considered after submission. DENNY’S DINER 5. Manuscripts will not be returned. Be sure to keep a copy of your work. Each HOLLYWOOD entry must include an SASE for notification of the contest results. 5751 SUNSET BOULEVARD 6. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Notify SRP immediately if your (Sunset Exit Off the 101) manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere. ~Web Sites~ 7. All entrants who include a 7- x 10-inch envelope with $1.56 in postage will www.issuu.com/the-taylor-trust/ receive a free copy of a recent contest winner or other SRP book. docs See www.silverfishreviewpress.com for instructions to send submissions by or e-mail. Send paper manuscripts to: Silverfish Review Press, Gerald Cable Book www.nwala.org Award, PO Box 3541, Eugene, OR 97403
NWALA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT Jo Ann Colton With a degree in business management, and professional management certifications in business management and human resources, Jo Ann Colton has myriad experience in the business and writing worlds. IT’S A SMALL WORLD Jo Ann Colton, the daughter of our current vice-president (and former president), Joe Panicello, was born on the east coast and moved to California when she was just 15. In 1992 she became a pioneer and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, paving the way for her family’s journey shortly thereafter. Jo Ann now lives in the beautiful mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado. WRITER IN THE MAKING Jo Ann’s writing career began when she was just a child; she knew it was her calling. However, it got its jumpstart in 1984 while she was working as an office administrator for a computer peripherals manufacturing company in California. By 1986 she managed the human resources department (as Personnel Manager), contributed to labor policy, produced a newsletter and workplace policy manuals, and helped grow the company from 50 to 800 employees, in addition to managing the facilities department. It was while in this managerial role that she got involved with the SimiConejo Valley Employer Advisory Council (one of 60 groups) under the umbrella of the California Employer Council (CEC) in Sacramento. The local level groups were composed of large and small California employers in all fields with the personnel managers/directors usually making up the core members. The local groups acted in an advisory capacity to the California Employment Development Department at the state level providing input relating to employment issues and concerns affecting all California employers.
In 1988, Jo Ann left the company to become an independent HR Consultant and, more importantly, to start her writing business. She also bid to get a contract (which she won) to write the CEC newsletter and act as the communications liaison between the Sacramento organization and its 60 local groups across the state.
By Kellee Henderson Her first book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Basics 101, was published in 2001. It helps readers decide whether or not they are cut out to be business owners. One step at a time, readers are taken through the process of choosing an appropriate business, working with government agencies, marketing, advertising, budgeting, and long-term planning. The book also offers an alphabet of motivational messages to the reader. The book is designed to enlighten readers to chart their own course either as a business owner or provide them with the self-realization that they can change careers or follow the best employment path for them. In 2006, Jo Ann published her mystery thriller, Pieces of the Puzzle, and it continues to garner good reviews. Currently she is in the process of publishing her “Little Red Writer Book” series to aid new and emerging writers in reaching their own goals and objectives as they travel down the writer’s path.
Jo Ann Colton WRITE & WRITE SOME MORE Jo Ann writes a monthly Remodel of the Month column for the local Evergreen newspaper, which spotlights different trade businesses and showcases before and after kitchen and/or bathroom remodels, landscape renovations, and other projects. She also writes monthly business profiles for another local paper. In addition, Jo Ann was part of a select group of writers who worked together to produce Jefferson County, Colorado, An Eventful History, a 600-plus page book that details the history of Jefferson County through text and old photographs. Jefferson County, Colorado, celebrated its 150th anniversary this year and this book is the only one that details the history of this area.
So You Want to Be a Writer (book 1) provides aspiring writers with an overview of the writing process and is a must-read resource for beginning and unpublished writers. How to Develop Story Line Ideas (book 2) is designed to help new writers seek and recognize a plethora of ideas for books and other writing pieces. Marketing Matters (book 3) introduces writers to the mechanics of marketing. The book provides helpful information and suggestions about marketing, as well as topics like advertising, publicity, public relations, and more. Writers will be enlightened as to what they can do to market their books, even on a shoestring budget. continued on next page
Jo Ann’s next project focuses on a fictional story that she believes “readers will find timely, amusing, and truly out of this world.” The book will be ready for her editor (Kellee Henderson) in a matter of weeks. Colton has a Florida publisher interested in the manuscript, but she acknowledges that there are no publishing guarantees with that company at this point. When she is not busy writing or scheduling book signings for her clients and/or herself, Jo Ann enjoys reading, managing her own business as a freelance writer/marketer, conducting marketing seminars, and running her own writers’ group in the Foothills community. Prior to her move to Colorado in 2007, she founded an NWA Chapter in the Las Vegas area that maintained 40 members for six years until it disbanded upon her move. Jo Ann Colton holds professional membership in the National Writers Association and area chapters (Los Angeles and Evergreen’s Foothills & Vicinity Writers Group). She can be reached at (www.jmcoltoncommunications. com), by telephone at 303-670-1028, or via E-mail at: email@example.com. VIEWS, a newsletter for the members of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Writers Association is published monthly, except for July and August of each year. The meetings take place at 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of every other month, except July and August, at Denny’s Restaurant, 5751 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood OFFICERS President-Tom Howard Vice President-Joe Panicello Secretary-Arturo Ruiz Treasurer-LaVonne Taylor CHAIRMANSHIPS Historian/Photographer-Madelyn Beck Hospitality-Mary L. Ports VIEWS editor-LaVonne Taylor Fundraising-LaVonne Taylor Membership-Jack Clubb
For information, call: 323-876-3931 or click on www.nwala.org or www.issuu.com/the-taylor-trust/docs __________________
Spunky St. Jude (r), NWALA Mascot, with pal Sugarbabee
The Beauty of Christmas I love to see the Christmas tree a pinnacle of shimmering light, an angel perched at the very tip top, a most inspiring sight! I like to walk the festive malls and watch the happy faces anticipating that wondrous day, which speaks to all the races. For Christmas is more than meets the eye, its message runs wider and deeper telling of love that lives through time — each man is his brother’s keeper. —Wanda Weiskopf
Stop and Listen You go out in the evening and look at the sky and see the stars, slowly wheeling not only through the night but through the year, the seasons. Star patterns unchanging throughout your lifetime, the same constellations, the same Pole Star and Dipper and Eagle and Swan. And you see the moon progressing through its phases, from the thinnest golden crescent of a new moon to the fat, silver roundness of a full moon, to the late-rising moon on the wane, shrunken and wan. Moon phases that have been known to man since he first looked at the night sky. You see the sunrise and sunset, varying by a few minutes day after day. Time, the passage of the seasons, the lunar months, the solar year, the days. Time hasn’t changed a noticeable fraction of a second in ten million years. The first man who stood on two feet and watched the sunrise and had a glimmering of wonder about time knew that same span of daylight that we know today, the same year. Grass grew as deliberately then as now, and the berry ripened in its own time. But somewhere along the way, man began to count, not only the days, but the hours, the minutes, the seconds.. Time was unchanged, but man was caught in his own time-trap. The very echoes came to say, “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” And only now and then did anyone stop and ask, “Why, and what for?” And looked at the sun and the grass and the trees and knew that they weren’t hurrying, and sat down and listened. The soft whisper he heard was the sand flowing through the hourglass, the same flow it has had since time began. —Anonymous, contributed by Jaime Pickell
SHOWCASE A Christmas Doctor’s Visit
She leaned back in the hard chair beside her oncologist’s small table computer. He was typing as she spoke. “Last time we had a miscommunication about the prescription for the estrogen strength.” she said. “I take it for three weeks and then go off it for five days.” “Why do you do that?” “Dr. Bluming said, to be in the study, it had to be Premarin and should mimic the body’s natural cycle.” “Well, you no longer have a natural cycle in that respect and the less you take the better.” “Yes, I know, but it’s the hot flashes, — still — in the middle of the night. “Three a.m.” he said, chuckling as if he had more than clinical experience. “Yes, exactly,” with wonderment in her voice. “Or maybe it’s my pajamas,” she added. “I look like a bunny.” “Do they have feet?” he asked. “No, and I don’t have the flap in the back either — or — ” and she raised both arms vertically over her head with cupped hands, finishing with a flare of pointed index fingers toward the acoustical ceiling tile, “ the ears.” “Well, then you really don’t look like a rabbit.” They were moving toward the table where she was to remove her blouse and bra for the physical exam. It was a number choreographed over the ten years since she’d been diagnosed with DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, something which sounds scary but may or may
not actually lead to breast cancer. However, they had acted aggressively as if it would. She sat. He pulled out the extender for her legs. “Do you know the movie, A Christmas Story?” she asked. “Oh yeah, that’s one of my favorites.” He helped her to lie down. “Jean Shepherd,” she said. He nodded. “He used to have a radio program in New York when I was in high school. As I recall it came on at nine o’clock on a Sunday. I had the radio by my head and would listen to his storytelling in the dark. I was supposed to be sleeping. I have a record of his too.” “I’m Jewish, “ he said, “I know.” “But I love Christmas stories. My favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life.” “I’ve got a copy of it but I haven’t the guts to watch it.” He said, “ It’s very funny, like when he meets the angel at the bar.” She didn’t know what he was talking about. He said, “Ask me anything, and I can quote it.” “I couldn’t do that as I don’t know it.” He was palpating in a ring around her breast that had a shallow but noticeable crater in it from the two biopsies. There was also a black spot tattoo to triangle the seven weeks of radiation. He was saying, “Usually we would have a family get together on Christmas, but my father-in-law died two years ago.” She furrowed her brow in sympathy and also because he was pressing on a sore spot. “And my kids are grown, so last year we were asking what we should do. I said, I know, Chinese food. We live in Studio City, so I called the Beijing Garden. The
By Barri Clark
phone rang and rang, about ten times.” “They must have been busy,” she said, sensing where this was leading. “So I called back five minutes later. Somebody picked up and then lay the phone down. I could hear the crowd. “So, I said to my wife,” he puffed out his chest, ‘I’m going in.’” “I’m going in?” she laughed, tipping sideways on the table. “I went down there and they were packed. They said, it would be at least an hour’s wait. I sat at the bar with a couple of other guys who had been sent there by their wives or partners and we talked. One wife kept calling to find out what was going on and where the food was. I said take his order ahead of mine. He has to get out of here.” She remarked, “The angel at the bar.” He chuckled. “Well, everything feels fine. See you in six months.” In the hallway, they gave each other a peck on the cheek. “Happy Hanukkah” she said. “Merry Christmas.” he replied.