Archive for PNWA

Introduction to Blog Series on the 2011 PNWA Conference

I made a strategic decision to not pitch anything to agents and editors at the PNWA conference this year. I did have three appointments lined up, including one that I thought would have been an especially good fit, but in the end I decided against it. Everyone thought I was crazy for making that decision. The volunteer to whom I returned all of my appointment cards was incredulous.

“Are you sure? Why?” he asked as he reluctantly held out his hand to take the cards back.

I replied that it was not an easy decision, but I was happy about it. I explained that I just didn’t feel well, for starters, was a bit worn out, and just didn’t want to put more pressure on myself. I didn’t want to feel overly excited, or nervous, teeming with anxiety and adrenalin. Sometimes, those are fun feelings and wonderful to experience, but not for me this time.

I wanted to take in the conference this year in a calm and focused manner instead of leaving seminars early to make my pitching appointments or go over and over my thirty-second pitch in my mind instead of truly listening to the things I came to learn. I don’t have a lot of energy right now, and I had to choose the best way to channel that energy.

So in the end, I felt good about watching my three appointment cards join several others in the glass jar that was collecting them all. I also felt good knowing that I was going to make three other writers extraordinarily happy and excited when they learned three coveted agent and editor appointments had just opened and they could slide into them. That made me smile the most.

One of the things I did instead was make an appointment for new professional head shots.  My last series of official photographs were taken three years ago and while I still liked them, it was time to update. I was impressed that Mark Bennington, a freelance photographer based in Los Angeles who’s working on a documentary about the acting community in Mumbai, had a booth at the conference and was available to take writer photographs.

I’ve known about Mark for a few years now because he’s taken the official photographs of many writing and publishing insiders, including one of my writing mentors, Christina Katz. I didn’t bring anything fancy to wear for the photo shoot because I don’t have much that isn’t maternity, and I didn’t want to look pregnant in my pictures.

“Can you make me thin again?” I asked Mark, only half-joking.

“You’re beautiful!” he replied.

I was nervous and stiff for the most part, so Mark had to work overtime to get me to lighten up.

“What do you like to do?” he called out.

“Drink!” I replied (again, only half-joking).

“Name something that makes you happy!” he called next.

“Jazzercise!” I answered.

In the end, I got about 20 shots to use. I’ve put two up on the blog already and plan to change them out every once in a while.

I’m going to write a short series of blog posts from the notes I took at the conference. Even though I brought a mini laptop to use for conference note taking, I didn’t use it. I opted instead to take notes by hand, using the pen and tablet provided in our conference packet. As a result, I’m now organizing and typing them up to use here.

I thought it would be fun to begin this short blog series with a few quotes that stood out from the various speakers whose seminars I attended.

My favorite quotes from the conference:

  • “Follow your dreams, or your dreams will follow you.”—-Deb Caletti
  • “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.”—-Bob Mayer, NY Times bestselling author.
  • “You have a story to tell. So tell the damn story.” —-Janna Cawrse Esarey, author of The Motion of the Ocean: One Small Boat, Two Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife.
  • “The publishing industry isn’t changing by the day but by the hour. It’s a brutal industry. I feel sorry for everyone trying to break in now.”—-Steve Berry, NY Times bestselling author.
  • “Write every day, read every night.”—-James Rollins, NY Times bestselling author.

And here are several additional quotes from from Bob Mayer that I picked up from three of his presentations I attended. Mayer graduated West Point, served in the Special Forces (Green Berets), including commanding an A-Team, taught at the J.F.K Special Warfare Center & School, and has conducted thousands of presentations, workshops and keynotes both in the United States and internationally. He’s a N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly and USA Today Best-selling author.

Mayer was one of the most popular speakers at the conference, due in part to the open, honest, humorous, and intelligent manner in which he shared his twenty years’ experience with traditional and self publishing.  His military background and leadership training was also a unique draw for the crowd. (“He could kill a man with nothing but a spoon,” someone tweeted from the conference.)

From Bob Mayer:

  • “I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but agents and editors tell everyone to send them something after the conference one-on-ones, because 90% of attendees won’t actually do it, rejecting themselves first.”
  • “Expecting your publisher to promote your book is like expecting your ObGyn to raise your child.”
  • “Will anyone else care? Make them care.”
  • “90% of people aren’t willing to learn anything.”
  • “Probably the best book you’ll write is the one you’re most afraid to write.”
  • “The only thing keeping print book sales up is Costco and Walmart, and that’s maybe twenty authors.”
  • “The hardest thing about being a writer is writing.”
  • “Courage is acting in the face of fear.”
  • “The big publishers promote ten authors. The rest, they just throw out there.”
  • “Attack the ambush. Whatever you’re most afraid of, you must attack into it.”

More from many of these authors in the next couple of blog posts. I’ll be starting with Bob Mayer and his first conference presentation, “E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing for the Writer.”

Coming Soon: My Notes From the 2011 PNWA Conference!

I just returned from the annual Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference. I look forward to this event each year; it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow writers, see old friends, attend seminars and book signings by famous authors, listen to agents and editors, and walk through the corridors checking out the booths of various publishers, editing services, and writer’s associations.

I took an entire tablet full of notes over the three-day event, which I plan to organize and type up (in between continuing bouts of four-month-pregnancy-nausea) and publish here on my blog. I think a lot of you who are involved and/or interested in the writing and publishing industry will find this updated information useful and interesting. I know I did!

In addition to all of the networking and learning I do at the PNWA conference, I look forward each year to getting out of town and kicking back in a plush hotel. I just love checking in, getting my information packet and badge, and then sitting all by myself to plan my conference itinerary and people-watch. And then, at the end of each full day (the days last from 8:00 a.m. until well after 9:00 p.m.), I retire to my hotel room to look at all the pamphlets, fliers, and cards I’ve collected and get ready for the next day.

I have to admit I do get a little lonely in my room by myself, though. I feel awkward and strange with all the quiet and nobody to hug or talk to. So, last year, I invited my then-pregnant sister, Steph, and her husband, Ryan, to spend one of the nights with me. We had a great time lounging in the summer heat by the outdoor pool, and then kicking back by the night torches later in the evening.

This year, because George happens to be home, I invited G and the kids to spend part of the weekend with me. I knew Eva and Vincent would love the pool, be excited to drive to the “big city,” and wander around the hotel. They were just adorable and I was so happy when they showed up. I was also able to sleep better at night snuggled with my little ones. I’m accustomed to being without G, but not at all used to being without my cuddly children, especially at night!

I am sixteen weeks pregnant now and still not feeling well. I did read that once you hit fifteen weeks, you should be long past the nausea and be “glowing.” If you aren’t feeling and looking that way by fifteen weeks, you’re likely going to feel unwell throughout the pregnancy. Well, I’m certainly not glowing and I feel awful, so I have a sinking feeling that I’m in for it.

I did feel slightly better at this conference than I did two months ago at Bloggy Boot Camp, though. During that conference, I rushed back to my hotel room, sick, after every seminar. This time, I was able to hold it together and sit through most of the day. I kept breathing, sipped on cold water, and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. I recently began feeling the baby move around; usually, this is a great feeling. I have discovered this time, however, when you already feel sick to your stomach, feeling the squirming and twirling inside does not really help.

I will be back soon with detailed information on exactly which authors I heard speak and present at the PNWA conference and the highlights on writing and publishing I learned from each.

The Day Before Departure

It’s the day before G and the crew leave for Alaska and the blackcod/halibut longlining season. The crew showed up on Monday and they’ve been working hard getting the boat ready to go. I’m not exactly sure what they’ve done besides put the shack on and load all the groceries because I haven’t made it down to the harbor yet this week.

I normally have plenty of time to get down there, but the week before a big season like this is always hectic on both ends and time just got away. Last year, George was gone from June until October catching our quota. The quota was reduced a bit this year, so I hope that he catches it quick and makes it home before the summer is totally over. That was a long stint last year, even for me, who was born into this life.

I think I’ve got the kids’ summer schedule pretty well planned. A couple of mornings and a couple of afternoons of activities for them each week, and the rest of time free to play with Mommy and go for walks, play on the slip ‘n slide, and go to the lake. They’ll have swimming lessons in August, and I’m going to sign Eva up for a mini art camp. They are also extremely excited to go visit our dear friends who live a few hours away to play and swim in their big outdoor pool. I’m looking forward to that trip myself!

As for me, I can’t wait to attend Bloggy Boot Camp in June and the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference in August. I think the children and I have a nice balance of things to keep us moving along without Dad; plenty of activity and plenty of downtime. Now if the sun would finally come out and stay for a while, that would be perfect!

Oh, I almost forgot. I signed up to foster dogs through our local no-kill shelter. George and I fostered many dogs before we had children, and in fact, that is how we were lucky enough to meet and adopt our beloved pitbull Toby, whom you all know recently passed away. I’m not going to foster young, energetic dogs or puppies, however. I’m not up for that at this time.

I told the shelter that I’d prefer senior dogs or dogs recovering from trauma or surgery. Basically, dogs that just want a warm bed on which to sleep, a pat on the head, and a good meal. I also have a very special place in my heart for pitbulls. So if the right fit comes along, I’m looking forward to honoring Toby’s life and memory by taking in a needy dog. It will also be good company for Mandy.

Okay. Off to pick Eva up from preschool and clean the house for our last night all together as a fishing family for the next few months. Will be back with departure day pictures tomorrow night! Have a wonderful and peaceful day.

Writer Mama’s May Give-A-Way

I’ve been a lot of things the past couple of months.

I’ve been the wife of a commercial fisherman during the Dungeness crab season.

I’ve been the mother of a little five-year old daughter whose questions and curiosity seemingly have no end.

The mother of an almost-four-year old son who’s decided that a kick is the best way to handle his frustrations.

I’ve been the mother of a quiet, big, loving pitbull who died suddenly, and too early, at the age of seven after flourishing in cancer remission for three years.

A Jazzercise instructor and student.


Taxi driver.

The 17-Day Diet book reader.

Appointment maker.


Dish washer.

The Lit reader.

Photo album keeper.


Bed maker.

The “My tropical vacation is over” sobber.

Aaah…I tease. I’m happy and grateful to exist in all of these roles and appreciate the ups and the downs.

The one thing I haven’t been recently is a writer. Yikes.

I can hardly wait until June, when I’ll find out if I am a finalist in the non-fiction category of the big Pacific NW Writer’s Association Literary Contest. I worked hard on my submission and sent it off knowing I’d done the best I could do. But then…I balked, not working on my project further and turning my attention to other things.

It’s time to get focused again.

I figured that the best way to jump in was through Christina Katz, my longtime writing mentor. She is holding a daily writer-inspired book give-a-way on her site,, throughout the month of May. When she held a similar event in September for a few years, I actually won one time. Anyway, I will be checking her blog each day for inspiration and encouragement. If you need to get refreshed and refocused in your writing, I suggest you do the same!

Here is the information:

The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway is back, only in May from here on out, instead of in September.

In the past, not all of the giveaway authors were mom authors, but this year you will meet a new mom author every day in May.

We also have a new theme this year: creative confidence. I’ll be asking each author a few questions about how authorhood has impacted her career confidence.

Imagine a chance to meet and hear inspiring stories from a new mom author every day. It’s going to be really cool. I hope you can come by and participate.

Participation is easy. I’ll post a new prompt each day when I introduce each author and book, and if you answer the prompt, your name will be added to the daily book drawing.

It’s a lot of fun, you guys. This is my fourth time doing it and I cannot wait.

Please mark your calendars for May 1st and I’ll look forward to seeing you here then!

Jen’s Friday Favorites

Too many favorites to count this week!! But here goes…

1. Family (and extended family) trip to Vegas!

2. George, the crew, and the boat wrapping up the Dungeness crab season and coming home this weekend.

3.  Eva and Vincent’s spring gymnastics show.

4. Only three more months until I find out if my submission for the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s literary contest is a finalist.

5. Registering for the Bloggy Boot Camp! (And thanks to Mom and Dad for babysitting so Mommy can attend!)

6. My upcoming feature story for National Fisherman magazine! Stay tuned for details.

7.  The most hilarious lunch with my parents, sister, and precious baby niece today. Lots of laughs and the best way to spend an afternoon!

8. Everywhere I went in Vegas, I heard Jazzercise music. It made me feel so at home, at ease, pumped up, and ready to roll.

Have a wonderful weekend!!


Another Cool Commercial Fishing Blog

I am really excited today. I have no idea why, as nothing amazing has occurred, but I’m pumped.

One thing I love is that the large non-fiction writing project I’ve been working on for years has finally come together and feels perfect. Don’t get me wrong; it’s far from finished. I finally sat down last week and reviewed a ton of feedback on the work I’ve gathered so far from editors and agents all around the country, along with feedback from a few fellow writers.

Most of the feedback was legitimate and caused me to sit back and reflect upon the suggestions and insight. Other feedback was so off-base it was clear the reader did not have a handle on the material at all. That feedback I simply rolled my eyes at before depositing in both my mental and real shredders.

I decided that I will, in fact, enter the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Literary Contest (deadline February 28) along with hundreds of other writers. I may not win a ribbon, but at the very least, I’ll come away with even more feedback to mull over.

The other thing I’m excited about today is that I’ve finally entered the “burn phase” of the 24-day AdvoCare Challenge I’m doing with a few other people. I did just fine on the first ten days and am looking forward to the final fourteen. This challenge, combined with all the Jazzercise, should help get me back on track and well on my way to feeling like myself again (as well as ready for our first real vacation in four years this spring!).

Last but not least, I discovered yet another awesome commercial fishing blog. I enjoyed the content, subject matter, and writing style so well that I’ve included a direct RSS feed to it in the sidebar to the right.

Fish Tales is written by Jen Pickett, who posts once a week on (the creatively and aptly-named) Pickfish Fridays. Here’s a bit about Jen, taken directly from her blog:

“Jen Pickett is a freelance writer, a poet, and commercial fisherman. She has spent nearly two decades in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. Starting as crewman, she’s worked tenders, seiners, trollers, gill netters and long liners fishing Alaska’s waters for herring, salmon, and halibut from Southeast Alaska to the Copper River Flats, Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Bristol Bay.  At the ripe age of 28 she became one of the few women to own and skipper her boat on one of Alaska’s most dangerous waters, the Copper River Flats, where she fished alone for the famous Copper River Kings and Reds. Encountering storms, breakers, broken-down equipment, ripped up nets, exhaustion, whales, sharks, and close calls with giant cruise ships and many other near misses, all became the norm aboard her 28′ boat…”

Pretty cool, right?

And before I go….Happy Birthday to my one time fishing crew mate and forever little sis, Steph!!