Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC)
wants to help you improve your skills, enlarge your
network, and run your business more effectively. Visit for more information.
3. IN ORBIT: Satellite Meetings
"Agent Insider 2007:
What's New, What's Tried & True, What They Want"
Monday, April 30
7:30 p.m.
"Businesses Reaching Businesses -- In Your Words"
Saturday, April 21
10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"With All Due Celerity: A Lesson in the First


March events drew crowds and praise. IWOSC has the best
programs in town.

Speaking of crowds -- we have a reservations policy for
panels and seminars. The IWOSC office staff takes
reservations for Saturday seminars until 6 p.m. Friday
evening, and for Monday night programs, until noon Monday.
We count on you to show up, and most of you do. However
(you just knew there was a "however" in the offing, didn't
you?) -- when you won't be able to honor your reservation,
will you please let in on the secret?

There's another etiquette or, better, ethical, issue:
members do not market to other members' e-mail addresses.
And non-members most certainly should not. If an IWOSC
member is annoyed by unsolicited e-mail that seemingly
comes via an IWOSC connection, be assured that IWOSC does
not make our members' e-mail addresses available, least of
all to anyone selling anything. I recommend sending the
offender's address to your spam blocker. We have an
excellent Yahoo group that does allow us to inform each
other, and a larger circle, if we have something worthwhile
to offer our fellow writers. Abuse of e-mail reveals much
about the spammer: untrustworthy, unscrupulous, unmannerly.
And ultimately self-defeating. We trust our members to
remain ethical.

We're a good group, founded on good principles; for 25
years -- less a few months -- IWOSC has been making life
better for writers in Southern California. We gather at
IWOSC satellites in the San Fernando Valley and in Pasadena
to enjoy a free exchange of ideas and problem-solving
techniques. Good news! IWOSC's San Fernando Valley
satellite has been invited to return to our delicious
original location -- see the story below.

And, more good news -- IWOSC's Westside Satellite is back
in orbit! To all who, with such good will and pleasurable
anticipation, answered our survey about preferences for the
new Westside Satellite: there were almost as many
preferences for days of the week and times of day as there
are IWOSCans who replied. Oh, okay. That's hyperbole. We
charted as well as we could your wishes, and are delighted
to announce that the new IWOSC Westside Satellite will be
held on the 2nd Thursday of each month, from 10 to 11:30
a.m., beginning April 12, at the Hamburger Hamlet in
Brentwood -- a short hop from the 405, on San Vicente.
Watch your e-mail for further particulars. Parking is
ample, and there's plenty of pleasant space to meet and
talk about all the issues we writers need to ventilate
about. Much appreciation to Melissa Kelly organizer and
moderator. Do you think you can come? Reservations are not
necessary, but it would be fun to see who's thinking
seriously about attending. E-mail Thanks.
See you there!

IWOSC supports the free speech principles of the First
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The
Supreme Court famously ruled in 1969 that students do
not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech
or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Recent firings at
Los Angeles' Celerity Nascent Charter School prompted a
story in this newsletter. We welcome your comments.

Thanks for your directory listings. The directory will be
available in IWOSC's booth at the Los Angeles Times
Festival of Books, April 28 and 29. See you there!

Alice Campbell Romano
IWOSC - Independent Writers of Southern California
Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29

Here it comes again -- one of our all-time favorite weekend
events. So, mark your calendar for Saturday and Sunday,
April 28 and 29. It's the annual Los Angeles Times Festival
of Books, to be held at UCLA's Dickson Plaza. IWOSC's booth
is located, once again, right there, in the heart of the

For those who have previously experienced the Festival of
Books, you know the two-day event is filled with exciting
demonstrations and lectures by prominent authors and
notable newsmakers of international acclaim. There is
something or someone here for everyone, from sci-fi to
romance to biographies to nonfiction; even kids and
domesticated pets can mingle with their favorite book

* IWOSC's booth is seen by the thousands of Festival
visitors. And we are working furiously to create an
appealing booth to publicize not only IWOSC's great
programs and activities, but also our members'
accomplishments. Call it "The Story of You."

A stand-up display will be designed to showcase members'
books and/or published articles and stories. Any members in
good standing are invited to submit cover art from their
latest books or published magazine articles.

As always, there are some guidelines. Please use the
following instructions:

> Two copies of each submission, please.

> Do NOT send an original. Send ONLY color copies of the
book cover or magazine story. Not the flaps or the back
cover. If your literary work is an unusual size reduce the
color copy to 8" x 10" or less. Magazine stories should be
8 1/2" x 11" or less. All of this can be done at any copy

> We are also planning a collage with your publications'
mastheads. Please send two copies of each masthead under
separate cover (see below.)

> If there's room, we'll include a brief two-paragraph
author bio or a condensed version of the jacket blurb,
whichever you provide. Send this copy by e-mail to:

>Art should be mailed (NOT e-mailed - we will not print
this material out for you) in a non-bendable envelope to:

Judy Seckler
4548 Irvine Ave.
Studio City, CA 91602-1916

> Send magazine masthead art to:

Laura Meyers
1818 South Gramercy Place
Los Angeles, CA 90019

> The deadline is April 16, 2007. After this date, it
cannot be guaranteed that artwork will appear on the
display. Material that exceeds these dimensions or does not
meet the other requirements will not be used. Any
questions: Call (818) 681-6760 or e-mail

* As always, the greatest fun comes from direct
participation. So consider donating at least two hours of
your time to work at the booth, on either or both days. You
will meet members of the writing community and promote the
myriad benefits of becoming a member of IWOSC. You'll be
pleasantly surprised by how much satisfaction you will find
in discussing your craft with others.

Lyn Corum has agreed to take on the all-important role of
volunteer coordinator. Call her with your availability at
(310) 828-7145 or e-mail her at
Courtesy refreshments will be available for our booth

* If you would like more information about IWOSC's
participation in the Festival, please contact Roberta Edgar
at or (310) 552-4905.


IWOSC's monthly drop-in satellite sessions are open to all
writers. Bring your writing, your ideas, problems,
questions, complaints. Support, laughs, juicy controversy,
and plenty of networking. You don't have to be an IWOSC
member to attend.

* NOTE: We are also reorganizing our Satellite in Orange
County. If you would like to participate, or have an idea
of your own, please contact IWOSC Satellite Coordinator
Miriam Poe at

A contest.

"The Sopranos" begins its final eight episodes on Sunday.
By the end of the eighth episode, Tony Soprano will either
be dead, missing (so the movie can be made), reformed and
driving an ice cream truck throughout Bergen County, in
jail, or on the Board of IWOSC. He should be so lucky.

Here's the offer:

Predict the fate of Tony Soprano. Whoever gets closest,
with the most specific details (does he die, how does he
die, who does it, where is he) will be awarded a one-year
membership or three seminars (winner's choice).

Get your creative and irreverent juices flowing for this
fun-raiser (not fund-raiser). Please keep your submission
(s) to one nice-sized paragraph at most. You can submit up
to two treatments. Open to both members and not-yet-members

We will publish some of the more interesting thoughts in
our succeeding newsletters.

Send your work to: Laura Meyers at, with
a copy to Gary Young at

Good luck!

"Agent Insider 2007:
What's New, What's Tried & True, What They Want"
Monday, April 30
7:30 p.m. Sharp
Veterans Memorial Building, 4117 Overland Avenue (Culver

You have a strongly saleable idea and writing you've
polished until it shines. Now you want to explore the realm
of agents. What still holds true from the dog-eared books
on agents that you have on your shelf? What's changed in
today's milieu and with the electronic environment? What's
hot today? A stellar panel of agents, including former Los
Angeles Times Book Review editor Steve Wasserman (now a New
York agent), will share insider views. Join us and become
armed with the most up-to-date information.

The panel:

* Steve Wasserman is now director of Kneerim & Williams at
Fish & Richardson and manager of the firm's New York
office. While at the L.A. Times as Book Review editor,
Wasserman was also a principal architect of the Los Angeles
Times Festival of Books. Wasserman's literary interests are
eclectic, and include history, memoir and biography,
narrative nonfiction, science, and popular culture.

* Betsy Amster heads her own literary agency in Los
Angeles. Before opening Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises
in 1992, she spent 10 years as an editor at Pantheon and
Vintage. In a recent profile, Amster was described as
having a no-nonsense style and a whimsical sense of humor.
Her clients include best-selling writers MarĂ­a Amparo
Escandon ("Esperanza's Box of Saints") and Elaine Aron
("The Highly Sensitive Person"). Her agency looks for
literary fiction, quirky mysteries and thrillers, memoirs,
narrative nonfiction, self-help, parenting, and business.

* Paul S. Levine wears two hats, as a literary agent and
lawyer. He represents authors, the sale of motion picture
and television rights to books, and film and TV writers.
Previous projects include fiction by Edward Cline (the
Sparrow Hawk series), "The Dog Ate My Resume" (by Zack and
Larry Arnstein), and the made-for-TV movie "Santa Jr."
(Hallmark Channel). His literary/book interests include
self-help, how-to, politics, sports, and commercial fiction
(i.e. thrillers, mysteries, "soap opera" novels [a la
Danielle Steele], and literary fiction). For film, he looks
for romantic comedies, thrillers, and historic epics; for
TV, he focuses on true-life movies, docu-dramas, and series
(both dramatic and comedic).

Robin Quinn, an award-winning nonfiction ghostwriter and
book editor, will moderate.

Cost: IWOSC members - free! General admission: $15.

Reservations are required. Contact or call
(877) 799-7483 for reservations, directions or information.
Reservation deadline (if space is still available) is noon,
Monday, April 30.

This is a very popular event! Please reserve early.
"Businesses Reaching Businesses -- In Your Words"
Saturday, April 21
10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Building, 4117 Overland Ave. (Culver City)

You write brochures, flyers, press releases, and reports
for your business clients. In this hands-on, interactive
seminar, you will learn how to optimize your clients'
business-to-business communications.

Instructor Trish Lester teaches techniques that will help
improve your clients' communications to other businesses as
well as directly to the consumer.

Lester is a specialist in corporate communications with
more than 20 years' experience. As a writer, designer, and
project manager, she provides a range of PR and marketing
communications assistance to corporate and professional
clients. She is expert at creating cost effective, quality
print materials that reach a well-defined audience and call
for a specific, measurable response.

Brochures, advertisements, direct mail and newsletters are
her primary areas of expertise. She is also experienced in
developing website content. With extensive background in
healthcare and fitness, international trade, food, and
finance, Lester has won dozens of awards from professional
organizations for achievement in the areas of employee
communications, collateral materials, publications, design,
writing, and PR programming. She is also a
singer/songwriter! Learn more about Lester at

We would like to encourage seminar participants to submit a
sample of their business writing-for-hire, and benefit from
Lester's expert critique. After you sign up for the
seminar, you may send (via USPS or other post) your
previously-produced printed materials for critique IN
ADVANCE, along with a few details, to help Lester evaluate:

> Who the intended audience was
> How the piece was distributed
> What type of response was desired from the recipients
> What response was received (if known)
> How the material relates to other
materials/programs/services of the same business (if

Mail your materials to:
Trish Lester
Signature Communications
PO Box 221703
Santa Clarita, CA 91322-1703

Samples should be postmarked NO LATER THAN April 16, to
ensure that they arrive and that Lester has time to take a
look. Sorry, no e-mail submissions allowed this time. Note,
too, that this is NOT a requirement of attendance. Seminar
participants may just bring materials for evaluation on the
date of the class. But Lester will be able to give more
serious attention to materials she receives in advance.

COST: General Admission: $35; IWOSC members: $15.

RESERVATIONS: Contact or (877) 799-7483.
Space is limited. Reservation deadline: 6 p.m. Friday
evening, March 16.

"With All Due Celerity: A Lesson in the First Amendment"

In March, the administration of the Celerity Nascent
Charter School in Los Angeles fired seventh grade teacher
Marisol Alba and math teacher Sean Strauss for their
participation in events planned for the school's Black
History Month program.

The school also forbade its students to read a poem, "A
Wreath for Emmett Till," written by Marilyn Nelson, or to
lay a wreath of flowers as part of its memorial to the
slain youth.

In 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicagoan, was visiting
the town of Money, Mississippi when he allegedly whistled
at a white woman. Till was African-American. The boy was
abducted by two white men, pistol-whipped, shot in the
head, and weighted down with a 74-pound gin fan before
being dumped in a nearby river. The men were acquitted by
an all-white male jury. Both of his killers publicly
admitted their guilt in a national article in Look
magazine. The savage murder and the trial received
worldwide attention and galvanized the civil rights
movement in the United States.

According to an article in the L.A. Times, school officials
felt that the details of Till's murder were "too graphic"
for its younger students. The article quoted Celerity co-
founder and Executive Director Vielka McFarlane as
saying: "We don't want to focus on how the history of the
country has been checkered but on how do we dress for
success, walk proud and celebrate all the accomplishments
we've made."

Observing from her home in Connecticut, Nelson, a former
poet laureate of Connecticut and National Book Award
finalist, responded with a letter to McFarlane and Grace
Canada, the school's principal, excerpted below.

March 20, 2007

Dear Ms. McFarlane and Ms. Canada:

It has come to my attention that controversy apparently
related to my book, "A Wreath for Emmett Till," has led to
the firing of two of your teachers. I feel compelled to
defend Marisol Alba and Sean Strauss, who were apparently
fired because they had signed one of several letters of
written by students to protest the summary cancellation of
the seventh grade's contribution to the Black History Month
program at Celerity Nascent Charter School.

The seventh graders had planned to read a poem and create a
wreath of white flowers in memory of Emmett Till, who was
lynched when he was their age, for allegedly whistling at a
white woman. I cannot tell from the newspaper article
exactly why the seventh grade's wreath for Emmett Till was
deemed "unfitting for a program intended to be
celebratory." But one might argue that the lifelong courage
of Mamie Till Mobley, Emmett's mother, who spent nearly
fifty years campaigning against lynching, is well worth
celebrating. One might celebrate Emmett Till's contribution
to the then nascent Civil Rights Movement. One might
celebrate how far we have come since the year of his
death. One might -- as was apparently the point of the
program -- celebrate Black History.

But the news coverage indicates something more troubling
than a failure to honor our painful history and its
triumphs. I am shocked to learn that there may truly be
African American women who would consider what happened to
initiate the chain of events leading to Emmett Till's
murder in any way related to "sexual harassment." May I
remind you that fifty years ago, and perhaps still now,
what happened -- if it DID happen -- was not that a man
whistled at a woman, but that a BLACK man (or, actually, a
14-year-old boy with a bad stutter, on the first day of his
first trip without his parents, hundreds of miles from
home, in a Mississippi town, which, surely, his mother
would have warned him about) allegedly whistled at a WHITE

I am deeply concerned that an educational administrator and
the president of the P.T.A. of a school whose student body
is 80 percent African American would so completely miss the
point; that you hope to teach children to "dress for
success, walk proud, and celebrate accomplishments," yet
choose not to teach such a pivotal moment in our history of
upward striving. Do you allow the students of Celerity
Nascent Charter School to know that slavery existed?

Even more troubling than that initial decision, however, is
your deciding, in a school in which, according to the L.A.
Times, "most students are below grade level in reading when
they enroll, and many have behavioral problems" to fire two
teachers who have turned things around to such an extent
that seventh graders (a notoriously difficult age to teach)
are so committed to their project that they wrote letters
of protest. This whole incident reminds me of a scene in
Ralph Ellison's great novel "Invisible Man," in which the
protagonist, standing in front of the statue which
symbolizes the school's mission, wonders whether the
teacher who is holding a veil over the head of a kneeling
slave is raising the veil, or lowering it.

I suggest, Ms. Canada and Ms. McFarlane, that your firing
Ms. Alba and Mr. Strauss has taught the students of
Celerity Nascent Charter School one of the most important
lessons to be learned from the study of Black history: that
people in power often wield that power unjustly and
unwisely, and that it is our responsibility to speak truth
to power and to resist injustice.

Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King,
Rosa Parks, and Mamie Till Mobley would have been proud of
your students' passionate and clear view of your decision
to cancel their program. They would have signed the
students' letters of protest, too. You have accelerated the
original injustice by firing teachers who encourage your
students to think. Thus you commit injustice against both
teachers and students.

I encourage you to reinstate Marisol Alba and Sean Strauss.
With all celerity.

Yours truly,
Marilyn Nelson
East Haddam, CT


Kudos to these IWOSC members who have great news to report
this month!

PETER A. BALASKAS - "The Grandmaster" (Bards and Sages
Publishing, winter 2007). INA HILLEBRANDT (editor) -
"Sensual Spirit: poetry and thoughts from the place where
body and soul meet," by Chrystine Julian (Pawpress - March
2007). WILLIAM G. HUTCHINGS - "Choose Panama: the Perfect
Retirement Haven" (Mission Bay Publishing, 2nd edition, May

PETER A. BALASKAS - a short story - "Wash Cycle"(Rogue
Worlds, Issue 15, April 2007).

NAZBANOO PAHLAVI - "Iranians Celebrate Spring in the Valley
With Norooz" (Sherman Oaks Sun, Studio City Sun, March
2007); "Valley's Iranians Celebrate Norooz" (Daily News,
March 23, 2007). COLLEEN PAEFF- "Walking Man" (Los Feliz
Ledger, April 2007).

WILLIAM G. HUTCHINGS - "Promote Your Book in the Media"
(Mission Bay Publishing, April 2007).

DEVIN ALEXANDER - "Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander"
(Discovery Health Channel, Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. and
Sundays at 11:30 a.m.); TRISH LESTER - a debut CD -
"Plymouth Belvedere" (Signature Communications/Recording
Division, April 2007).

** Tell IWOSC about your writing and career
accomplishments. We'll feature members' books, articles,
stories, awards, and other achievements. Simply e-mail
IWOSC Editor Colleen Paeff at with your news
(remember, IWOSC Members only.) **


Sunday, June 10
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Embassy Suites Hotel, 211 E. Huntington Drive (Arcadia)

Sisters In Crime/LA announces its upcoming conference, "No
Crime Unpublished," featuring guest speakers Rochelle Krich
and Jacqueline Winspear. There will be an "awesome" line-
up of workshops by noted authors, a "thrilling" selection
of forensic workshops, editors from Writers Digest, and a
panel of agents sharing their insights into the crime and
mystery writing biz.

The fine print: Sisters In Crime members $125, non-members,
$135, through May 31. After June 1: $150. Reservation
forms available at:

Sunday, June 10
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center
The Southern California Genealogical Society will devote an
entire day of its annual three-day Jamboree to family-
history writing. There will be something offered for every
level of writer, and for every genre of family history
projects, from memoirs, to journaling, to historical
research, to technical tips for managing large writing

The keynote speaker is well-known writer Carolyn See,
discussing how to handle family secrets with discretion,
honesty and sometimes humor. Other featured writers include
Judith Barrington, with two presentations on memoirs; Linda
Lawrence Hunt, author of "Bold Spirit," on pulling
historical research together into book-shape; D.G. Fulford,
co-founder of, explaining how to
start the memories flowing; and Thomas Curwen, editor-at-
large at the Los Angeles Times, explaining how professional
writers manage the challenges of taking notes,
interviewing, story structure, dialogue, description, and

For complete information, visit or
call (818) 843-7247.

Thursdays 7:30-10 p.m.
Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd. (Venice Beach)
Bring your voice or your synopsis, one-pager, script, or
other texts you hope to re-write to advance your film work.
We'll read your work out loud and give you constructive
guidance. We meet every Thursday -- first come, first
served. This free, all-volunteer script workshop comes to
you from the non-profit literary arts foundation, Beyond

Drop by or drop them a line: Curious?

Moderated by journalist and researcher Peter D. Coogan.

Win up to $200 in cash prizes and publication in the annual
contest anthology, in this contest sponsored by the
Tallahassee Writers' Association. Deadline: June 30. Mail
entry fees of $5 per poem and/or $3 per haiku to: TWA
Penumbra, PO Box 15995, Tallahassee, FL, 32317-5995. For
contest e-mail and complete entry guidelines, visit

The 2007 New York Book Festival will hold its annual
program on June 23, with a daytime festival in Central Park
followed by an evening awards ceremony.

The Festival will consider published, self-published and
independent publisher non-fiction, fiction, children's
books, teenage, how-to, audio/spoken word, comics, e-books,
wild card (anything goes!), science fiction, romance, and
biography/autobiography, published after January 1, 2003.

The judging criteria are:
1) The story-telling ability of the author;
2) The potential of the work to win wider recognition.

The grand prize for the 2007 New York Book Festival Author
of the Year is $1,500 and a flight to New York for the

TO ENTER: Visit for entry
categories, deadlines, and for entry forms.



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