PNWA 2019 Writers Conference: Days 2 and 3

As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, the first day of the writers conference was packed full and I was exhausted by 5:00 pm. Knowing I needed to pace myself for a four-day conference with events going late into the evening, I took it easy the rest of the time. I picked my classes and workshops carefully and since I knew I wasn’t going to do a pitch this year, I wasn’t as stressed out as everyone else seemed to be.

(Seriously, writers are intense AF!)

The energy in the conference, in general, felt very anxious as people were nervous, scared, excited, and probably humbled by the chance to pitch to some big-name literary agents and editors. Once I let go of the decision to pitch, I was a lot more relaxed. Listening to the editors and agents during the panel forum with an audience of, oh i don’t know, maybe 500 or so hungry writers, was nerve-wracking to say the least. Yet, I sat there and listened as they talked very fast about what their agency specializes in, is looking for and NOT looking for, took my notes, and tried to process as much as I could. Maybe next year I’ll be ready….maybe.

The focus of the conference felt bent towards traditional publishing tracks. I get it, that’s where the money and notoriety is. However, I attended one class by an Indie Publisher, Kim Hornsby that was encouraging to me. She has many books published on Amazon and published wide on other book seller sites and had some encouraging words, tips, and resources to share with us. It reaffirmed what I already knew; I’m ok with Indie Publishing. I want to spend the time to learn more about it, perfect it for my personal goals and purposes, and help others who want to do the same.

It was encouraging to learn that even though “self-publishing,” as it is formerly known, used to have a stigma to it, nowadays it doesn’t have that same stigma. Anyone can do it. There are many very successful, talented writers who can get their great books published without having to rely on the big publishing houses, or even the smaller ones, who often times have very specific genres or story lines that they are looking for.

Some tips for Indie Publishing:

KDP Direct Publishing with Amazon is easy and free! There’s a learning curve to it so try something out for a test run. You can always take it down anytime you want to.

If you wish to publish wide (on other bookseller sites), setup an account with Draft 2 Digital. I have yet to look into this, but it sounded promising and was recommended over Smashwords due to their customer service. (*disclaimer: this was the speaker’s recommendation and I have no opinion one way or the other but I’m taking her word for it for now – don’t kill the messenger)

Keep in mind that if you opt-in to KDP Select (w/ Amazon) you cannot publish wide. You have to sell exclusively on amazon for at least 90-days and then after that you can opt-out of the program and publish wide again if you want to. KDP Select does automatically put you into the Kindle Unlimited program however, so that’s a great way to gain more readership.

Establish a profile on Author Central with your bio, profile, photo, and you can add a blog, videos, as well as the ability to change your blurb (for your book) easily and quickly. It’s a great way to get more readers, track sales, and get help from Amazon customer service. It’s like your own little website.

Consider updating your book cover or adding content with a new release once in a while (but not too often).

Promote your book at a discounted price for a limited time, maybe for a holiday sale or limited-time offer! You may also want to partner up with other authors and put together a box-set of books for a low price. Consider donating part of the proceeds to a charity of your choice. Great marketing idea but also a nice way to give back!

When you are ready to publish a second book, consider having a pre-order option so that on launch day, those pre-orders all drop at once and it looks like you got a bunch of sales really quickly.

Ask people who enjoyed your book to write a review. Reviews are golden (if they’re good ones)!

Have a platform. I heard this A LOT throughout the conference. It’s important for marketing! What’s a platform, you ask? Well, it could be Facebook, Instagram, a website where you get a lot of traffic, an extensive email list, or maybe you’re a public figure already, etc. Some way of reaching a large audience to promote your book.

Finally, don’t be in it for the money! ūüôā

I highly recommend attending writers conferences. There is so much opportunity to learn, talk to other people, make new friends and contacts, and most of all….PITCH! Even though I chose not to this year because I am not ready, I will do it in the future. Now I understand what it means, how it works, and what the benefits are. You may get rejected, you may get accepted, you may spark interest….you just never know until you try.

Special thanks and appreciation go out to Robert Dugoni, a critically acclaimed best-selling author and board member of the PNWA for offering and awarding me a scholarship to attend this year’s writers conference. I’m am humbled and grateful.

Tonight, I’m attending a Town Hall event in Seattle to hear Ibram X. Kendi speak on his new book, “How To Be An Antiracist”. I may just blog about it later….stay tuned!

PNWA 2019 Writers Conference: Day 1

A writers conference? What a novel idea. For someone who writes and edits sparingly, as a hobby, artistic expression, and in what little spare time I have, I honestly wasn’t sure I should attend one. But, how intriguing…….

Somehow, I got enough courage to apply for a scholarship to the Pacific Northwest Association Writers Conference this year. I have been a member of PNWA for a while now and have looked into the conference in past years but this year, for some reason, felt it was time to check it out. I figured, I’ll apply for the scholarship and if I get it then it was meant to be. I was meant to keep on WRITING!

Well, VOILA! I got it! A full-paid admission ticket to four fun-filled days of information, inspiration, learning, and networking with other like-minded, creative writers! I’m honored.

When I asked why my application was chosen, apparently it wasn’t my writing samples that stood out but rather the fact that I’m a single mom with three kids who takes the time to write. THAT was what stood out? Hmmmm…..who knew?

Day 1:

As an introvert, it makes me very anxious when I have to go somewhere new where there are a lot of people I don’t know, and when I might have to actually talk to strangers. Plus, I knew I’d face unfamiliar waters as far as some of the content of the conference such as PITCHING A BOOK idea! Am I ready for that? Definitely NOT!

I got all checked in and then decided to introduce myself to the woman who gave me the good news that I was the scholarship recipient. She was so sweet and welcoming that it put me at ease. I felt more confident to stay and resist the urge to bolt straight back to my car and to the comfort of my own home.

The first session I attended was all about Scrivener, the writers editing and story boarding tool. I took copious notes and can’t wait to dive into it with my manuscript! Then, it was off to the conference planning session designed to help people navigate the myriad of workshop choices and to offer some advice to participants on what to expect in the coming days.

I realized during the afternoon class entitled Dialogue on Dialogue, standing (or rather sitting on the floor) room only (before they brought in extra chairs) that writers are an eclectic bunch. There are some very prominent personalities, extroverts in their full glory as well as the introverts like me who would rather just soak it all in and process it later. This blog post is my way of processing. ūüôā

Then, it was time to practice the dreaded PITCH! Now, I’ve been waffling between whether or not to try it just for the experience and practice even though I know I’m not quite ready yet for a literary agent to offer me a contract. What I decided is that I”m going to use this first conference experience to learn as much as I can about how to pitch, work really had to have a near-ready product, and then go for the pitch next year. When preparation meets opportunity, that’s when the magic happens. I need to prepare more! I will have another opportunity.

One observation I had was that the conference is very “white.” By that, I mean, zero diversity in attendance as far as racial or cultural diversity. There was diversity in age, writing genre, and a good mix of genders, but frankly it made me a bit uncomfortable and I just kept wondering where are all the people of color? We need diverse books!! POC need to be heard and published! I think I saw two POC out of a few hundred attendees! Quite unbelievable and it made me wonder why. Was it the cost? Was it that the conference isn’t marketed to POC? I just don’t know.

All-in-all, after being there from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., I was exhausted! There was still at least 3 more hours left in the day; the pitch-fest where we could practice our pitch with other attendees and a coach, and the keynote dessert event with a published author, but I had hit a wall. I was done. All I could think about was going home, putting on my sweats, and pouring a glass of wine. So, I forgave myself and decided that was quite ok to pace myself. I will wake up tomorrow morning, full of new energy, and ready for more workshops on editing, non-fiction and memoir writing, publishing, and who knows what else!

To be continued….tomorrow. Day 2 of PNWA 2019!

Dreaming BIG and Life at the Market

woman wearing tank top sitting by the window
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Throughout my time in college, like most college students I suppose, I made massive strides of improvement in my ability to write.  I learned about first person vs. third person, correct punctuation, and APA style.  I mastered referencing and footnotes, editing, and how to structure a white paper.  I became rather proficient.  A good friend of mine used to read my papers and told me he liked my writing so, when he started a publishing company called For Passion Publishing he invited me to be one of his editors.  I loved it!  I contacted another good friend of mine back East who started Telling Our Stories Press and asked her to throw me some editing work from time to time.  She did and I loved it!

After editing and contributing to a few published books, and a few more unpublished ones, as well as getting one of my own short stories in Reflections: Ultra Short Personal Narratives, I was motivated.

A long-time family friend told me that she had written a “book” many years ago and she always dreamed of someday publishing it or making it into a movie.¬† I asked her to let me look at it so she mailed it to me. It was hand-written in a spiral notebook!¬† I had my work cut out for me.

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I set to the task of transcribing the cursive scribbles into the computer, formatting red text where I could not decipher the scrawled words.¬† Highlighting sentences that seemed out of context or didn’t make sense.¬† We went round and round with edits, re-writes, corrections, and changing things like “have” to “had” , “she knows” to “she knew”, “was” to “were”, etc.¬† It was a bit of a daunting task, but after re-reading it about 100 times I hoped I’d corrected them all.

Next was navigating the publishing process.¬† That part was new to me and I had to tap into my publisher friend’s experience and knowledge at times, trying not to bombard him with questions.¬† Thankfully, he was more than happy to help and wanted me to succeed. (That’s a sign of a true friend!)

One of the most challenging steps was the cover design.  I wanted the author to like it, and as my client and friend I wanted to make her happy, while at the same time offering up my own opinions and creative ideas.  It took a while, but we finally got there and I believe we are both happy with it.

So, long story short, I edited, contributed to, and published my first book available on Amazon.¬† The author is Wendy Allen and Life at the Market is her very first published work as well as my very first attempt at being the publisher.¬† When it went live, I don’t know who was more ecstatic, me or Wendy.¬† We both had a dream we thought may never come true, but together we made both of our dreams come true.

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I’m inspired to continue this journey in my spare time. (I’m not giving up my day job just yet!) Part of what inspires me is helping people to make their writing dreams come true.¬† That’s why I started my own company called Joy House Publishing.¬† I named it after my beloved mother who would be so proud.¬† May she rest in eternal peace and continue to watch over me like the angel she always was.¬† I miss her.

If you are inclined or the least bit curious, I invite you to check out our first book written by Wendy Allen and published by Joy House Publishing called Life at the Market.

Life at the Market takes place in and behind the scenes of a local supermarket where the mundane and unexpected happens.¬† There are surprising 2018-07-20_12-08-19characters who both work there and are frequent customers and boy, there is never a dull moment!¬† From controversy, to injuries, to flat out spats between co-workers, and don’t forget falling in love, it’s a fun read and a break from the heavy and serious issues in our world today.¬† I think everyone can relate to this book and I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks, and Happy Reading!!! (and writing…)


With gratitude…

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“For My Mother”

Written by MY Mother after my grandmother passed, and before she herself passed one year later, five years ago today on May 1, 2013.

I found it handwritten on notebook paper while cleaning out mom’s house.¬† It’s as if I’d written it about her…


Pondering, I wonder

The stories left untold

89 years of love and life

So few passed on to hold

Faded photos of unknown faces

Concealing memories of faraway places

Captured in time the faces I know

Come from my remembering, not from your stories told

Childhood smiles of puppies and parties

Friends and family of long ago

What came before I can only imagine

Filling the blanks with my own version

Made up stories that ebb and flow

Never reaching any conclusion to know

Lessons were learned through the years

We shared the laughter and the tears

Through the wisdom of your experience

I knew love and conquered fears

As this Earthly journey ends

Your face so free of strife

These words you spoke float through me now

‚ÄúI lived a colorful life.‚ÄĚ


Ingabritt Rogers 1922 – 2012
Cristina Joy Klix  1950 Р2013



ON a sailing adventure I took about a year ago, I experienced profound peace on the water.  The Adventuress is a 100-year old wooden schooner that is impeccably maintained and smells of old wood and musty sails.  Today I reflect on that trip over the calm waters of the Puget Sound and remember the glorious harmonies of the sea shanties sung by the crew and taught to the guests on board.  I missed the opportunity to go sailing on the Adventuress again today, but hope to catch it the next time around.  Today would have been a perfect day.


My parting memory of that trip was a last-minute photo I took just as the sun was setting.¬† Looking at the photo later, I noticed an aquamarine orb sitting just on the edge of one of the masts.¬† My friend, who is very tuned into supernatural phenomena and frequently channels our angels from the Spirit world said, “Hey, your mom was there with us.”¬† Mom was there.


It’s on this very day that my dear friend’s mother is dying.¬† My friend was my mother’s best friend and now she is going through what I went through in 2013; watching her mom pass away.¬† It’s a painful process no matter how it happens, but we all know that we will all go through it at some point and it’s never easy.


My prayers and thoughts go out to all those who have lost, or are in the process of losing, a loved one.  Keep a vigilant eye out.  Their Spirit is with you and may appear when and where you least expect it to.


Adventuress_1In loving memory of Cristina Joy



“Aquamarine evokes the purity of crystalline waters, and the exhilaration and relaxation of the sea. It is calming, soothing, and cleansing, and inspires truth, trust and letting go. In ancient lore, Aquamarine was believed to be the treasure of mermaids, and was used by sailors as a talisman of good luck, fearlessness and protection. It was also considered a stone of eternal youth and happiness. Today it protects all who travel by, over, or near water, and opens the channels of clear and heartfelt communication.”

Crystal Vaults


May Day Flowers

dandelionsI don’t associate May Day with protests.¬† It’s pathetic that it’s come to that these days.¬† I remember May Day as the day to make baskets of flowers and surprise Mom with them.¬† I’d make a construction paper cone with a handle, pick dandelions and blue bells from the yard to put into it, hang it on the door and knock.¬† I’d be hiding behind a nearby tree and watch Mom open the door and find the flowers and smile.¬† That’s what I associate May Day with.¬† Flowers and my dear Mother’s smile.

I miss her so much it hurts.¬† So much has happened in the four years since her passing from cancer.¬† I think about that day a lot.¬† That week, that month, that year…..what I would have done differently, more time I would have spent with her.¬† It was a bad few years with so many stressful things happening all at once.¬† Memories I prefer not to re-live.

I hope she knows I’m ok.¬† I still struggle, but I’m better now.¬† I wish she were still here with us.¬† I love you forever Mom.¬† xoxo


Another day in February

My son is practicing his driving in preparation to get his license, so every morning he drives to school and I am along for the ride.¬† It’s only a 15-20 minutes drive, but it’s 20 minutes of the day that I get alone time with my son.¬† Sometimes we just listen to music and comment on the traffic, other times we talk about what we want to do on the weekend, stuff like that.¬† This morning, he asked me what my plans were for Valentine’s Day.¬† He knows I don’t have a boyfriend, but he doesn’t really know exactly who my “friends” are, or their status¬† He has a girlfriend now so I know he was really just leading up to HIS plans by sounding interested in mine.

I looked over and giggled.¬† “I don’t have a valentine,” I said.¬† “You kids are my valentines!”¬† A smile came over his face.¬† “Well, I was thinking and I wanted to get your opinion,” he said.¬† [Kari] has always wanted to watch the sunset at the lake, so I thought if you could drive us there we could have a little picnic and you could pick us up later?¬† I even researched where the sun would set and what time to know if we could even see it from the lake.¬† The sun sets at 5:30.”

I smiled and said, “How romantic!¬† However, it might be better to plan that more towards summer when it stays light longer and it’s not so cold.¬† What if it rains?¬† I think you need a plan B, or a new plan A.”

We rattled off a few other ideas; a movie, dinner and a movie (too expensive, he says), bowling, roller skating….?¬† “Ok, I’ll think about it,” he said as we drove up in front of the high school.¬† “Have a great day and I’ll see you later,”¬† I called after him as he walked away from the car.¬† I got into the drivers seat and headed back home to wake up the next kid and get her off to school.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day….

…Just another day in February.¬†



Standing On the Horizon

IMG_00000381 (1)2015 is coming to a close. ¬†As I stand on the horizon of a new year, it means a lot of things to me. ¬†Thoughts and emotions run through my veins like floodwaters rushing¬†through a pipeline from the mountains to the ocean. ¬†I look back on where I’ve been and then I look ahead¬†to the possibilities of where I might go, not knowing for sure where the road will lead. ¬†It’s a scary and exciting place to be.

I’ve been through so much in my life it’s hard to wrap my mind around it sometimes. ¬†I read articles written by brave women who are willing to put their experiences out there for anyone to read and I relate to much of what they say. ¬†I, too have survived hardship, living in another country, interracial marriage, abuse, attacks, financial woes, struggles, childbirth, abortion, miscarriage, divorce, survival, college, death of loved ones, climbing a career ladder, raising teenagers (ongoing for a while now…), among other life events. To me, it seems par for the course called life.

Everyone has a story, right?  Everyone has struggled.

I thought about writing a book. ¬†I’ve actually started it. ¬†Then I wonder, what makes my story so unique? ¬†Anyone could write a book and it would be interesting, different, people could relate to it…look at how many billions of books are out there! ¬†I think, for me, it would be personal satisfaction. ¬†An accomplishment of sorts. ¬†A need to express and release the floodgates to some extent. ¬†Maybe someone will read it. ¬†Maybe someone will relate to it and say that I, too am brave to tell my story. Maybe, just maybe it will inspire someone to leave their abusive husband, or to take a journey abroad, or to go back to college like I did.

I’ll keep working on it. ¬†I have so much to look forward to in 2016. ¬†I’m in a good place, probably the best in many, many, many years. ¬†It’s taken the three years since my divorce to feel comfortable being alone. ¬†I’m not voraciously searching for the love of my life anymore, but rather focusing on myself and my kids for once. ¬†Their well-being has always been my focus, but my attention is different. ¬†If a man does appear in my life, he must be worthy of my love and it has to be a good fit for all of us, not just him and not just me. ¬†I’ve made many mistakes in the past that I refuse to repeat.


Looking back, I would do so much differently. ¬†A friend recently told me that “the time to do things differently is NOW“. ¬†That is the lesson I’ve learned.

Here’s to 2016 and a brighter future!

Happy New Year!