Don't Miss a Single MWSA Post! Subscribe Here!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Military Writers May Love Call for Submissions

Call for Stories From Disaster Healthcare Workers

Kaplan Publishing, the publisher of a broad range of educational and consumer books by and for nurses, physicians, paramedics, and other healthcare workers, is now accepting stories for a new and exciting anthology, To The Rescue: Stories from Healthcare Workers at the Scene of Disaster.

About To The Rescue

Devastating fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters are ongoing concerns in every part of the world. The personal stories of people who go to the scene and interact with survivors will be of great interest to both the world community and to people who work in these fields.

To The Rescue: Stories from Healthcare Workers at the Scene of Disaster is an anthology of stories by healthcare workers, from a variety of specialties, who have gone to the scenes of disasters, whether in their hometowns or across the world.

Story Guidelines

Kaplan wants to tell your story.

§ If you are a nurse, physician, paramedic, or other healthcare professional, please share your unique experience of working during a flood, a fire, a hurricane, a tsunami, a mudslide, a famine, an earthquake, or a conflict, and what it was like to interact with those directly affected by these disaster events.

§ Tell us how disaster response/relief work has helped to shape you into the person that you are today. Your story shouldn’t be a medical report—make us laugh, make us cry; allow your words to open the doors to your experiences for the reader.

§ All stories must be true and previously unpublished stories from your personal experience. Exceptions for previously published stories may be made if you retain the copyright.

§ The tone of your story should be inspiring, poignant and, when appropriate, humorous.

§ Submit stories in Microsoft Word, 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced with a story title and word count.

§ Each submission should include your name, address, phone number, and email address.

§ Tell a story that has a beginning, middle, and end. Write from your heart about a life-changing or life-defining experience.

§ Authors may submit multiple stories.

§ All manuscripts selected for publication will be subject to editing.

Before final acceptance, you will receive an agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of publication.

Submission Guidelines

§ Submission Deadline: February 21, 2009

§ Submissions can be sent via email or mail to:


Cite the story title in the subject line. You can type the story into the body of the email or send an attachment in Microsoft Word as outlined above. Only one submission per email.

(Mail) Kaplan Publishing - To The Rescue P.O. Box 51, Wever, IA 52658, USA

You can send more than one story per envelope. Include one self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for each submission. Send only a paper copy of the story; do not send computer disks or CDs. We cannot accept any phone calls.

§ Payment: $100 if published, along with two complimentary copies of the book

§ Story Length: 1,000 – 2,500 words

§ Point of View: First person

Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we cannot acknowledge receipt of submissions or provide status updates. You will be notified by e-mail if your story is selected for publication. Manuscripts will not be returned

Submitted by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. For more info on writing visit by Writer's Diges 101 Best Websites award-winning blog a

Thursday, December 25, 2008

How To Get Your Book In Armed Service Venues

Here is a Christmas gift to you from new MWSA member Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant:

It's by a well-known marketer of books, Brian Jud: (scroll down to the 5th article)

From Phyllis Zimbler Miller and Carolyn Howard-Johnson who are collaborating on a new book on book promotion.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. She is also author of the Amazon short "The Great First Impression Book Proposal."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Get Your Book Mentioned by Participating in Podcasts

Here's your opportunity to get your book mentioned and maybe learn something about editing and query letters, too! (-:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson ( and Yvonne Perry ( will be facilitating a one-time class to air on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.

"Conversation with Editors" will cover some of the common mistakes writers make and how to correct them. We will also provide helpful tips for impressing a publisher with your query letter.

If you would like your questions about editing and querying answered in this audio class, please post them by using the comments feature beneath this post. If you are an editor and would like to chime in on what mistakes you see most often, please contact Yvonne.

There is no need to register for the class. To get an e-mail with the link to the recording on January 13, simply sign up for the RSS feed ( our blog or contact Yvonne ( on her Web site.

Carolyn is an editor and author of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward To Avoid Humiliation And Ensure Success (How to Do It Frugally).

Yvonne is a full-time freelance ghostwriter and editor, and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (

Participating in podcast like this is a great way to get the title and Web address of your book mentioned!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mrs. Leiutenant Lauds MWSA

I thought you'd all like to see how one author admires MWSA. Phyllis Zimbler is author of Mrs. Lieutenant. As authors, I know you'll all want to look her up. Especially as she was so generous with her time to benefit the rest of us. (-:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

West Point Launches New Center for Oral History - Telling Soldiers' Stories

Although countless works of fiction and journalism have examined the soldier’s life in wartime, there has never been an archive of soldiers’ experiences, spanning historic conflicts and other missions, told in the soldiers’ own words.
Now there is. The United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, has established the Center for Oral History, an online research center gathering the personal stories of American service men and women of all ranks – beginning with those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and going back to veterans of Vietnam, Korea, World War II and other campaigns.
Housed by the History department at West Point, the new Center – which will officially launch in 2009 – is advised by a board that includes documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and 1947 West Point graduate and former Presidential advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft, among many other eminent historians, journalists, and educators.
Gen. David Petraeus, who recently became head of U.S. Central Command, welcomed the new Center: “Our army has a proud history, one that is chronicled in innumerable books and films. This Center aims to record our army's history in a different way, through the personal oral histories of our soldiers captured by thorough, thoughtful interviews. This is an exciting prospect,” General Petraeus said. The Center was conceived to help educate West Point cadets, through the stories of soldiers who preceded them into conflict; but also to create a trove of personal testimony that will assist the work of scholars and historians; and to help build a bridge of greater understanding and empathy between the military and the civilian population it serves. The Center’s web site will be open to all users.
“Oral history delivers a spontaneity and intimacy that you can’t draw from any other research sources,” said the Center’s director, Todd Brewster, a journalist and co-author of two best-selling books with the late Peter Jennings of ABC News. “In the best West Point tradition, we hope our recorded interviews will speak directly to the soldiers of tomorrow while contributing to the policy dialogue going on right now.” The choice of Brewster, who has served as senior producer at ABC News and has written for Time and Vanity Fair, underscores the Academy’s intention to make its new oral history center a resource for the general public as well as the military community.
Among the early projects undertaken by the COH: an oral history of the Iraqi conflict as well as a look back at the West Point Class of ’67, most of whose graduates were immediately sent to Vietnam. The Center will also interview former U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense whose decisions have been so pivotal to the fate of American soldiers.
The Center’s ambition is captured in its motto: “Every soldier has a story. Here is where the story is told.”
Here is a link to additional material about the Center – including a 12-minute video that includes some early interviews of soldiers featured in the news announcement below:
Let us know if you’d like to speak with Mr. Brewster or others associated with the Center for Oral History.
James Bourne 212 262-7470 Allan Ripp 212 262-7477

James Bourne

Allan Ripp

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coalition to Salute America's Heroes

Thought you all might like details on something to do to help our soldiers for Thanksgiving as well as other key programs. As you can see, all the "click heres" don't work but they give you an idea of how you can participate.

Contact address:
PO Box 96440
Washington, DC 20090
Providing Emergency Aid to Severely Wounded Troops and Their Families in Crisis

Key Programs:
Kids Camps

Emergency Financial Aid

Homes for Wounded Heroes

Wounded Hero Career Network

Family Support Network

Road to Recovery

Dear Patriotic American,

Instead of enjoying this Thanksgiving holiday, thousands of severely burned, blinded or paralyzed troops will be struggling to pay their bills and put food on their families' table.

By clicking here you can make a tax-deductible donation to the "Thanksgiving Emergency Relief Drive," sponsored by the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes. Our Thanksgiving Emergency Relief Drive was created to provide emergency relief for our wounded heroes and their families over Thanksgiving weekend.

And by clicking here you can send a special Thanksgiving THANK YOU and GET WELL card to a disabled serviceman or woman. A THANK YOU and GET WELL card from you

can help in their healing and let them know you're thankful for the sacrifices they've made. (You can even type in a personal greeting if you like!)

And I hope you will make an emergency, tax-deductible donation to help the family of a severely disabled GI avoid an eviction, foreclosure or utility cutoff.

My name is General Chip Diehl (Ret.) and I'm writing to you on behalf of the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes. The Coalition is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to provide financial and other aid for troops who have been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Here's why our wounded heroes are in such dire straits: Many troops who have lost their arms or legs, or have been blinded, paralyzed or brain-damaged can't be left alone. And most families can't afford a professional caretaker.

So nearly half their spouses have quit their jobs to care for them. Soon these disabled servicemen and women are having trouble putting food on the table and paying their rent and utility bills . . . and many are facing eviction or foreclosure.

As a result, requests for emergency aid have risen by 300 percent over the past several months. That means it's going to be extremely difficult to avoid turning anyone away unless we receive a large infusion of donations right now.

Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to the Thanksgiving Emergency Relief Drive, sponsored by the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes.

Your generosity can help a severely disabled GI and his or her family avoid an eviction, foreclosure or utility cutoff.

I'm proud to inform you our patriotic donors have fulfilled more than 6,000 requests for emergency financial aid - totaling over $11 million - from our disabled troops and their families. But with the number of requests for emergency financial aid rising by 300 percent, we may have to start turning these desperate families away - right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Please don't let that happen! By clicking here you can make a tax-deductible donation to our Thanksgiving Emergency Relief Drive.

This Thanksgiving there are thousands of wounded, crippled, blinded, burned and brain-damaged young men and women who need to know their fellow Americans remember them and honor the sacrifices they made.

So please click here to send them your best wishes with a GET WELL and THANK YOU card. And make the largest donation you can afford today to help these severely wounded heroes and their families survive through their financial crisis.

Thanks for whatever you can do,

Brigadier Gen. Arthur F. "Chip" Diehl III
U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

P.S. As I mentioned, hundreds of our wounded troops won't be enjoying time with their families and giving thanks this Thanksgiving because they are facing foreclosures, evictions, utility cutoffs or other financial disasters in the next few weeks. Nearly half their spouses have quit their jobs to take care of them, and their families have gone into a financial tailspin.

Please click here to make a generous, tax-deductible donation to the Thanksgiving Emergency Relief Project, sponsored by the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes.

And don't forget to click here to send a THANK YOU and GET WELL Thanksgiving card to a severely wounded young Marine, Soldier, Sailor or Airman.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cards for Soldiers.

I'm sure you all know about Holiday Cards for our Heroes but I wanted to remind our MWSA members. Find info about the offer (Snopes approved) at Scroll to the bottom to find other ways to help our soldiers--usually very inexpensively.

Blogger Carolyn Howard-Johnson wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Doing Something Meaningful This Thanksgiving for Our Troops

Thought I'd pass this blog post at WarPeaceTolerance to you--in case any us writers would like to treat a need soldier to Thanksgiving dinner. The link is there for you.

Your fellow MWSA Writer
Author of Tracings, an MSWA award winning chapbook of poetry

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nice Site for Military Spouses

I just thought you all might like to know about Kate Horrell who contributes to a couple military-oriented blogs. Here is her website.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Winner MWSA's Silver medal for Tracings
Available on Amazon at

Also blogging on WarPeaceTolerance and Our Soldiers at

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Kid Rock Rocks for National Guard

Today I went to the movies. Not news. What is news is that I found the National Guard trailer/ad more entertaining than Bangkok, the featured movie. I've embeded it on my War Peace Tolerance blog. Hope you all enjoy it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Using "I" As a Conceit

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success

I don't know when I learned the word "conceited." I was raised in Utah where most of us didn't use "conceit" in the sense of an elaborate or strained metaphor but rather to mean that someone thought they were extra-super special. The little girl across the street who snubbed me because I didn't wear long stockings with garters (which was an immediate tipoff that I was not her kind) was "conceited" rather than prejudiced. The kid who was quick to make a point of how bright he was when I made a mistake was "conceited" rather than arrogant (or insecure). Gawd! I loved the word "conceited." I could apply it to so many situations and avoid learning new vocabulary words.

Of course, in a culture where being extra-super humble was valued, I soon noticed that our English language is, indeed, "conceited."

I'm speaking of the way we capitalize the pronoun "I." None of the other pronouns are capped. So what about this "I," standing tall no matter where you find it in a sentence?

Recently as I tutored students in accent reduction and American culture I noticed that some languages (like Japanese) seem to do quite well without pronouns of any sort. I did a little research. Some languages like Hebrew and Arabic, don't capitalize any of their letters and some, like German, capitalize every darn noun. So, English—a Germanic language at its roots—just carried on the German proclivity for caps.

But the question remained. Why only the "I?" Why not "them" and "you" and all the others. Caroline Winter, a 2008 Fulbright scholar, says "England was where the capital "I" first reared its dotless head . . . .Apparently someone back then decided that just "i" after it had been diminished from the original Germanic 'ich' was not substantial enough to stand alone." It had to do with an artistic approach to fonts. The story goes that long ago in the days of handset type or even teletype machines little sticks and dots standing all alone looked like broken bits of lead or scrappy orphan letters.

Then there is the idea that religion played a part in capitalizing the "I." Rastafarians (and some others, too) think in terms of humankind as being one with God and therefore—one has to presume—it would be rather blasphemous not to capitalize "I" just as one does "God." Capitals, after all, are a way to honor a word or concept.

Which, of course, brings us back to the idea that we speakers of English are just plain "conceited."
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. It is a USA Book News award-winner as well as the winner of the Reader View's Literary Award and a finalist in the New Generation Book Awards. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and is a popular speaker and actor. Her website is

Saturday, August 16, 2008

War Memorial: Of Note but Seldom Seen

I thought readers of this blog would like seeing a war memorial that doesn't get nearly as much attention as many but should. It is on Amelia Island near Jacksonville, FL, (Nassau County). Go to War Peace Tolerance blog, Note the list of ways people can make a difference for our troops--frugally. I just happened on it accidentally. (-:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Writers Shouldn't Know Their Place

I found a quotation that I thought particularly appropriate for writers. It by a writer, Richard Lacayo (Time Magazine). And it was written about a writer, Mark Twain. Here it is:

"The last thing you need in a free society is people who know their place."

Don't you love it? Lacayo goes on to say, "Twain knew that. It's one reason we know his place--and it up there very high."

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the Military Writers Society of America's award-winning Tracings, a chapbook of poetry. Available on Amazon:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New GI Bill, Finally!

My grandson is elated with the new GI Bill that Congress passed. Thought I'd let you know about it, too.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, MWSA member and author of MWSA award-winning chapbook of poetry, Tracings.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Military Writers With Stories To Tell Invited. And It's Free!

I want to remind you that publisher Patrika Vaughn, talented Toastmaster award-winner Allyn Evans and I are teaming up to present a free teleseminar to writers who want to tell their own stories, as memoir or as fiction. Thus it is for genealogists, journalers and story tellers everywhere. It is titled "How To Write Your LIfe Story." I am pretty sure that many MWSA members have some untold stories to tell, even if they've already written one or two!

I'll share my experience turning my family's genealogy and stories into my award-winning novel This Is the Place and how I used the leftover stories from that effort in a book of creative nonfiction short stories, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered. I hope my experiences will inform those inclined to publish their stories but who need more information about how that might come to be. I even used family memories in my chapbook of poetry, Tracings.

Patrika is author of How to Write Your Own Life Story or Your Family's Saga available as a CD set. She will talk about how to turn this material into a book, covering:

1) why you should write it

2) how to go about it (even if you've never before written anything but emails)

3) how to make it interesting to others

The teleseminar will be moderated by Alyn who is also the author of Grab the Queen Power: Live Your Best Life, based on her own experiences.

Writers are invited to listen and come prepared with their questions at noon on July 12th EST . Call 1-218-936-7999. When prompted use this access code: 390175. If asked participants may need this pin number: 2823.

The teleconference will be available as a podcast afterward at :

Authors' Coalition, www.authorscoalitionandredenginepress/podcasts_&_radio.htm
The ACapella Publishing site,
Allyn Evans' site,
On Allyn's Queen Power site, .
And on Carolyn's Resources for Writers page at

Those with questions may contact Patrika at

The seminar is offered as a service to the writing community through the auspices of Authors' Coalition ( and Vaughn's publishing firm, A Cappela Publishing (

We three would love it if you could (or would!) pass this information to your fellow writers. How about your fellow critiquers and writing club members? (-:
Her other blogs include and, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Resources for Military Writers from John Kremer

All writers should be aware of John Kremer's Book Marketing Tip of the Week but this particular entry may be his most pertinent of the year for military writers.

Marine Corps stores~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I met the book buyer for the Marine Corps retail stores while riding the bus to the LA convention center during BookExpo America. They look for books that would interest Marine Corps personnel and their families.

U.S. Marine Corps Exchange, Karen Macdonald, Buyer, Personal and Family Readiness Division, USMC Building, 3044 Catlin Avenue, Quantico, VA 22135-5099; 703-784-3646; Fax: 703-784-5354.

Subscribe to John's letter at . Please also consider Sharing with Writers, a newsletter assoiciated with Authors' Coalition. It is also full of tips on promotion, editing and the craft of writing. Send an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to
Submitted by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Here's a Resource for Returning Soldiers with Mental Health Problems

My sympathetic friend, Kristin Johnson (who is founder of the Warrior Poets Project) sends this link for soldiers or families of soldiers. It will help them research how to get help in for soldiers with mental health needs. You'll see that you may even find help close to home.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Backward Editing! What a Concept!

I thought I'd share this tip with my fellow Military Writers. I offered it in a mini-column (for lack of a better word) for a listserve I belong to. The listserve is Word_Mage. You may subscribe to that by sending an e-mail to

This is the tip:

This is Book Expo America (BEA) week and I have tons of preparation for it so I'm keeping this post short. I'm offering one of those tips some of you may know and use or one of those tips some of you may know and not use 'cause you get in a hurry! In any case, it's an important reminder.

For the most accurate self-edit possible end the process I outline in The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success with a backwards edit. Start at the back of the book and read each sentence aloud. Yes. Backwards. Doing that keeps each sentence unconnected to other sentences and to other ideas so your expectations of what should be on the page are minimalized. That way your brain won't fill in corrections when they aren't there. This works as well for query letters and media releases as it does for full manuscripts.

Read a little more on editing query letters and media release at my blog, The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor,

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Promotion Op Plus Military-Themed Books for Your Perusal

Authors' Coalition offers their members a slide show each year in association with Red Engine Press which features many military titles and military authors. Many MWSA authors are featured on this Authors' Coalition slide show and those of you aren't in it can see some of the things AC is doing and possibly still want to post the slide show on your blogs, website, social networking sites, etc.

You will also find some valuable writing-oriented books featured on it.

This particular Authors' Coalition benefit works very best for those who speak or teach and can, therefore, run this slide show on a computer or project it on a screen at those events. It is cross-promotional meaning that when everyone on it is posting to their websites and taking it on their book signings with them, everyone benefits!

Joyce will be showing it at the huge Branson Veterans' Week in November and on her speaking engagements. I will be positing it on the Authors' Coalition site site, my site and on several of my blogs including the site and my military site,

So see below for the details of this program. Here is the slide show with Joyce Faulkner's explanation of how to use it.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Hi everyone,

At long last, here's the 2008 Authors' Coalition Slideshow. Your book or books appear in this slideshow if you are either a sponsor, a catalog participant, or simply a slideshow participant.

The goal of this slideshow is to give the participants as much exposure as possible. To that end, feel free to share it with your audiences, post it to your websites,blogs, My Space, Facebook, etc -- heck, give it away to friends if you want. The more that we use the slideshow, the more exposure everyone gets. As Carolyn says, cross promotion is extremely powerful and allows us to reach audiences that we might not touch otherwise. Understand that this is just one promotion in an arsenal and that it takes time to get name recognition. However, it IS a good tool and one of many ways to get your message out and your book known.


I'm including the slideshow here in a variety of ways --

• I've provided the code for 5 different sizes so that you can embed it on your websites or blogs, My Space, FaceBook, etc. (They are posted below my signature on this email) Your webmaster will know how to add it to your site. If you don't know how to do it, you can contact me and I'll walk you through the process.

• If you want to have it run on a blogger type blog (your url will have the word "" in it) will sign into your blog and go to the Layout tab. Choose Page Elements, Add a page element, Slideshow. Under Title, type in "Authors' Coalition Slideshow 2008". For Source, select "Picasa Web Albums". For Option, choose "Album." For Username, type in For album, choose AC2008SS. Then Save and when you publish your blog, the slideshow will appear and play automatically. (NOTE: This is a pretty small version, so I don't recommend this one.)

• You can also go to Blogger and add a new post...and paste this code in the posting box. To get it, e-mail me at Please put SLIDESHOW REQUEST in the subject line.

• If you just want to view the slides in a Picasa Album, you can see it at this link: At that address, you can invite folks to come see the slideshow if you want to send to your mailing list.

• If you would like to download the PowerPoint Slideshow, you can go to and save it to your hard drive. From there, you can burn to a cd that will play automatically.

• If you'd like to receive the slideshow on a cd so that you can show it at your events, you can either send me a check or I'll invoice you via Paypal for $4.50. (For those of you who have already ordered it, we'll be burning cds tomorrow and it'll be off to you on Thursday.)

Just a note, the Powerpoint slideshow is set to run slowly and has elaborate transitions. Each slide is set to show for 15 seconds. The show will loop once you set it up, it'll go until you stop it. It will not have these fancy transitions in the website versions.

Carolyn will post the new slideshow to the main Authors' Coalition page. I'll be posting it to my websites as well...which includes the Red Engine Press site. Next week (if the moon is right LOL) I'll post a version of it to

Joyce Faulkner
Director, Authors' Coalition

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How Iraq's Sand Is Like Irises: A Thank You from a Grandmother to Her Soldier Grandson

Below you will find the letter I sent to my grandson after receiving from him a bouquet of iris on Mother's Day. It seems very private but then it occurred to me that it is also very American, about generations and love and really, what our soldiers are doing over there or -- if that doesn't describe the way they're thinking about it now -- then it may be about what they thought they would be doing over there. He is serving in the tradition of his father, his grandfather, his Great Uncle Bob, and Jim, and another Great Uncle he has never met, Doug. Veterans all.
Dear Travis:

How I loved the flowers on mother's day, though the sand you mentioned from Iraq's deserts--unblooming ones I must presume--would have been adequate. It's the thought.

As it turns out, the flowers were iris. So, if it's the thought that counts, they made me think.

Your great, great grandmother Ruth Howard (the one who is a main character in This is the Place) raised iris. Raising iris is different from planting iris or just having some in your yard. She had a patch of them just beyond the side yard where that huge Mormon family sat in Adirondack chairs. There were some 40s /50s style metal lawn chairs there, too, a tad rusted. And the clothesline. I think it was made so the ropes could be taken down during family parties but those ropes were supported by poles where wasps liked to build their nests. They were cozy homes for the wasps, hollow with nice little holes for them to ease into and out of. Good hiding places. One never saw the actual nests, only the comings and goings. Once I leaned against one of their entrances (or perhaps exits). Someone didn't like it much and he (or she) stung me in the armpit. That's the first time I noticed the holes were there. Before that they had just been good places to hang from your knees.

Anyway, beyond that yard, all nice and green and shaded by an apple tree that put out the bitterest, hardest, greenest apples of all time, was the iris patch. Beyond that the chicken coop. Chicken manure made very good fertilizer for the iris so it was nice and convenient. Grandmother putzed in that patch. She crossed iris with iris to see what she would get. A little pollen from this applied with her finger to the female organs of that. She also tried for size, I think, because her iris were huge, as big as the biggest California-grown grapefruit. And the colors. Some had mismatched petals, the top ones that curved up different from the ones that made a skirt. Some glittered in sun like mica. And not just the color of Van Gogh's irises. Oh, no. Much too plain. These came in pink and gold-orange, the color of sunsets. Blues and lavenders, the colors of Utah skies in summer.

Grandma liked to give tubers (for they are tubers, really, and not bulbs) to people who came to visit for she kept them nicely divided so they didn't lose any of their energy and life. By dividing them her iris she kept them forever young. It worked that way for Grandma, too. Because she was always busy and interested in something she remained feisty and fun until she died in her 90s. The olds woman in Hollday, Utah at the time.

Getting a tuber from Grandma was a treat. It was always a surprise the following spring to see what color would come of those roots that looked like giant rat turds. Grandma produced miracles with her iris.

You did, too. (-:

Grandma Carolyn

PS: You can see that iris have been influential in my life. The cover of one of my book's of poetry (co-authored by Magdalena Ball) is covered with iris, courtesy of an artist friend, Vicki Thomas.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Few Resources for Writers from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Any of you MWSAer out there have a book in you that hasn't been published? Out of fear perhaps? You may want to listen to this MP3 that will encourage you to get started! (-: The interviewer is Lisa Osborne ( For those of you who need to promote your book, she is open to query letters. (-:
Posted my MWSA award-winner Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Military Resources and Blogging at

Friday, April 18, 2008

Book Fair Blues? Twelve Tips for MWSA Writers (and Others!) To Make Booths Better

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The spring season for book promotion will soon be upon us.

Don't rent a booth at a book fair.

Don't host an event.

Don't do anything! Not without assuring its success with a savvy marketing campaign. Here's how:

1. Join with other authors to cross-promote.

2. Send out invitations to readers and to the media.

3. Produce a catalog or brochure to give to the press in attendance and attendees. Try to give your gift more substance than a mere flier. It will beless likely to get tossed.

4. Tie sales to a charity relevant to writing or literacy.

5. Schedule book signing times even though you will be manning the booth for the full day. It adds credibility to your appearance.

6. Use signs, lighting and other effective display techniques.

7. Give a gift to those who purchase your book. Go to for a journal that can be used to increase your profits as an add-on sale or as a gift-with-purchase.

8. Offer snacks to those who drop by.

9. Take photos for use in post-publicity.

10. Design a media blitz including queries, releases, and personal phone calls.

11. Schedule a special offering or entertainment in your booth. For example, at the 2008 LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books Rey Ybarra will produce introductory mini videos for authors at a special price. You could also offer a
children's story hour or a poetry or a performance. (If you would like more information on Rey's video service, e-mail me at; put REY YBARRA in the subject line.)Learn more about a professional service at Watch the videos there that he has done for me and other authors.

12. If you can afford to do it, give out totes or bags with your bookcover, logo,
and website printed on them. Toss in your bookmarks or business/postcards.

And, of course, get a copy of THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T for practical suggestions for hundreds of other ways to brand yourself and promote your book. Look up book fair related words in the index including "book fairs," "book signings," "book expos," but don't neglect related subjects like "media releases," "building a contact list," and more.

To help you prepare, follow the planning of a couple of Authors' Coalition's book fair booths—both successes and disappointments—at my book fair-focused blog, . Learn more about book fairs and other promotion on the resource page at,_tradshows.htm .

Sign up for my newsletter, "Sharing with Writers" to learn more about book fairs and about every other subject that has to do with publishing. Simply send me an e-mail at Put SUBSCRIBE in the subject window. Or go to


Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This Is the Place, won eight awards. Her second book, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, creative nonfiction, won three. An instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program, her book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't is recommended reading for her classes, was named USA Book News' "Best Professional Book 2004," and was given the Irwin Award. Her second book in the How To Do It Frugally series is The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success is also a USA Book News award-winner as well as the winner of the Reader View's Literary Award in the publishing category. Her chapbook of poetry Tracings, was named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads list and was given the Military Writers' Society of America's Silver Award of Excellence. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and American Business Women's Association's Woman of the Year award., Her community's Character and Ethics Committee honored her for promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly's list of 14 "San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen." She is a popular speaker and actor. Her website is

Saturday, April 12, 2008

From MWSA member Vic Mills

Hi Joyce; Nice notice -- thanks! A few years ago I authored my first novel SNAFU and self published it. Barnes and Noble, Hastings Books and took on the book for several months, and held several book talks. Jeff Edwards penned two very nice reviews.

I've run into a few pitfalls that perhaps others have experienced as well.
1.) Most of the major book retailers will not take on a self published work, as there are so many offerings and they prefer well known publishers. Hastings Books are a large company and are among the few that do embrace us independents.
2.) One thing missing here in the Pacific Northwest are competent editors.
3.) A biggie for me is trying to get my book into the national organization, "The Military Book Club," who to contact.

Like others, I spent a lot of money getting my book on the market, only to discover, the market is closed to us.

That's all. Let me know if there are any talks planned for my area.

Best wishes,

Vic Mills

Friday, April 11, 2008

MWSA Member Offers Resources and More for Helping Troops

Have you ever wondered what you could do to support our troops and their families (other than sending well-meaning posts around on the web! (-: )

Are you looking for quotatons about tolerance?

Do you have a resource you'd like listed for those interested in the military to see?

Visit author Carolyn Howard-Johnson's War. Peace. Tolerance and Our Soldiers at Her grandson is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. This blog is her way of supporting troops regardless of your position on the war.
Contributed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the foreword for Support Our Troops, published by Andrews-McMeel. Find her at

Beware of Your Own Culpability: Writers’ Traps and Scams

I wrote this article a long time ago. However, I still spend time with new authors trying to prepare them for the world that awaits them -- whether they publish traditionally, with a subsidy publisher or self publish. I still see people rushing to sites that allow them to vent their frustrations. However, I think folks forget that companies are in business to make money. People work for those companies to take home a paycheck. That doesn't make business the great, monolithic "Evil-doer." Libelous comments, even though they are indicative of frustration, will be a mere ripple in the pond if the complainers are lucky. If they are loud enough -- and nasty enough, they might find themselves facing lawsuits. Whereas it's a free country and we can say what we wish, there are limits and responsibilities associated with free speech that are being tested everyday.

As authors, we have to understand what's involved in publshing and selling a book. Companies like Amazon make decisions based on many issues -- "cheating" publishers using print on demand printers isn't likely to be one of them. Anyway, here is an article I've published several times in several places. I hope you find it useful.

Joyce Faulkner

Beware of Your Own Culpability: Writers’ Traps and Scams

Many folks dream of making it to the top of an enormous pyramid of literary talent where they will rub shoulders with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger. Others fantasize about writing a runaway best seller and becoming the next Stephen King or Dan Brown.

For most, fortune is an elusive pixie that dances just beyond their fingertips. Not everyone with a story is talented enough or persistent enough to finish a book. Not all of those who do end up with a professional, commercially viable product. For the gifted, determined few who complete publishable projects, the industry is a maze of questionable opportunities, u-turns and dead-ends. The odds are against any one writer being at the right place and time with the right book. No wonder many would-be authors end up frustrated and vulnerable.

Impatient with the seemingly endless process, hopeful writers sometimes pay to see their work in print only to feel cheated and embarrassed by the effort later on. It happens so often that bookstores and writers’ sites feature books, websites and magazines filled with advice and warnings. Watch out for fraudulent agents and publishers, they say. Stay clear of anthologies that ask accepted authors to buy several copies. Don’t pay reading fees. Be careful of publisher referrals to editors who expect payment. Don’t write for free. The laundry list goes on and on. Given that so much of the traditional approach is out of the author’s hands, these cautions make non-traditional routes seem all the more treacherous. There are so many ways to slip up, it seems.

Certainly, there are scam artists out there who take advantage of those who dream of being ‘published’. Swindlers rely on their victims to participate in the double-cross which makes the result all the more humiliating. However, not all unhappy endings come from fraud. Some new author grief has to do with unmet expectations. One writer thought that once his book was accepted all he had to do was sit back and wait for the royalties to come rolling in. He learned otherwise when his handsome, well-written novel sold very few copies. Another author paid $500 to a publicist who told her that he’d present her book to the chain bookstore buyers. She imagined dozens of books on the front table at Barnes and Noble. There are no guarantees, she learned. Neither of these writers were duped. They didn’t understand the book business and their decisions were injudicious.

Regardless of which publishing approach an author pursues, here are a few attitudinal perspectives that might make the process less stressful.

· Adjust your expectations. Understand why you are writing and set goals based on that understanding.
· Evaluate your work with an eye to understanding who might be interested in reading it. Creativity is a wonderful thing, but if you aren’t speaking to an audience there will be no one to buy your book. As elementary as that sounds, garages full of unsold volumes abound.
· Understand that regardless of how you publish your book, that’s only one part of the process. You must dedicate yourself to selling it. Don’t expect anyone else to do this for you although larger publishers have more resources to help you than smaller ones.
· Focus on the art of self promotion. People won’t buy your book if they don’t know who you are. There are many books to help with this. One of the best is “The Frugal Book Promoter” by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.
· Network with other writers and learn from their successes and mistakes.
· Have a plan and make tactical decisions that support your strategy. For example, if your goal is to make money from freelance work, don’t give away articles but if your goal is to create audience for your books, writing in exchange for ad space may be a smart move.
· Understand what services you are buying. For example, are you buying results or time? Are you paying for expertise or for a task?
· Understand how you are paying for services. Are you paying by the hour? By the project?
· If someone with a deal that sounds too good to be true approaches you, it probably is. It’s a cliché but it’s true.

Most of us have been disappointed by what we perceived as broken promises. When this is the result of fraud, call a lawyer and take action. Warn others. When it’s the result of misunderstanding, making decisions based on inadequate information, or choosing the wrong service, there are fewer legal or moral recourses. However, assess why the results were less than you expected. Experience is a great teacher. Too bad it’s also a painful one.


Richard Lowry's Blog