The Premier Writing Organization
On California's Central Coast
Welcome to SLO NightWriters



SLO NightWriters members are together a colorful, enthusiastic, and creative group of writers, photographers and artists of all stripes.

On this page we feature links to many of our members' websites and blogs.

Writers want to be read. Please, then, click on each of the following links, visit our members' Internet sites, read, enjoy and participate.

Most of the sites that are listed here provide easy ways to leave constructive comments. We invite you to do so.

Happy reading!

Christina Grimm

What Do You Mean I’m Not Done!? Five Tips for Pitching Your Book to Agents

Christina Grimm, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Anne R. Allen's Blog


Sunday, June 16, 2013

7 Ways Authors Waste Time "Building Platform" on Social Media

Authors are getting hammered with more and more demands on our time. We get escalating pressure to blog more! tweet more!! send more newsletters!!! churn out 12 books a year!!!! And don't query unless your Klout rating is as high as Justin Beiber's !!!!!

It's making us all feel as if what we do is never enough, as Nathan Bransford lamented last week.

"It never feels like there are enough hours in the day, or days in the weeks, or weeks in the months, or months in the year. Time slips away, and with it a chance to accomplish something or edge closer to your dream. Social media only adds to the pressure.

People are completing novels and making New York Times bestseller lists and curing cancer while juggling on a unicycle and it all looks so effortless and who needs sleep anyway??"

I’ve addressed the problem myself in my post Why Are We Running as Fast As We Can to Stay in the Same Place?

Porter Anderson of Writing on the Ether responded to Nathan with a post of his own, where he said,

“Remember the early XM Radio slogan? ‘Everything. All The Time.’ Are we really going to be able to sustain this?”

No. We aren’t.

We are creative human beings, not machines, and creativity is subject to departure without notice, leaving depression and anxiety in its wake. In succumbing to the pressure, we are abusing ourselvesundefinedrisking physical and mental illness. Plus we’re increasing the pressure on all our colleagues by appearing to be that magic “unicyclist” Nathan talks about.

Thing is: A lot of the pressure comes from misinformation and old news.

The online world reinvents itself at least every two years, and the creaky old publishing business has a hard time keeping up. They’ve jumped on the social media party train, but unfortunately, they sometimes jump on the caboose instead of the engine.

A lot of the things publicists and marketers are asking authors to do are time-wasters that have been overused, are no longer relevant, or have no impact on sales.

If you’re in a master/slave relationship with an agent or publisher, you may be forced to do this stuff. But you can be excused for slipping a link to this post into your next email.

And if you’re an indie, you can ignore it all and do what actually works. (And please, stop trying to manipulate your fellow authors into doing this stuff for you.)

Right now what works is having lots of sales and freebies andundefinedif you can afford itundefinedadvertising them on vetted newsletters like Bookbub. E-Reader News Daily or EBookBargainsUK. But next week it will probably be something different. This business is changing by the nanosecond.

The only thing that can be counted on to enhance your visibility as a writer is to interact with readers in a real, honest, and generous way on the social media platform of your choice, as Hugh Howey has showed us. He said he focused on the readers he already had instead of trolling the universe for more. When you create the kind of goodwill and loyal fan base he has, word of mouth spreads news of your books. That way you get those "1000 true fans" instead of amassing pointless lists of numbers.

Here’s stuff that doesn’t work, wastes time, and could lead to serious burnout:

1) Racking up 1000s of Twitter followers

The only followers that matter are the ones who read your books and blogposts and interact with you. Any others are meaningless.

I’m amazed at all the spam I get offering to sell me followers. A "follower" whose identity has been obtained by fraud and sold is not going to be a willing customer.

Buying thousands of Twitter followers and calling it a “platform” is like renting a lot of empty safety deposit boxes and saying you’re rich.

And paying somebody to send out a stream of tweets saying "buy my book" to a bunch of strangers is pointless, too. I don't know anybody who has ever bought a book because they were ordered to in a tweet by a stranger.

An author with fifty engaged fans on Twitter is going to be far more effective than one with a thousand detached strangers, all of whom are purchased and/or are other authors racking up follower numbers, too.

Another thing that publicists and marketers love that will not gain you any readers: automating Tweets, especially auto-responds that say “buy my book, minion!” and asking your Tweeps to do your marketing for you. Auto-responses to a follow usually get an auto-unfollow, and publicists who insist you put one on your Twitter account are clueless.

2) Madly promoting your "Like" page on Facebook

People actually pay for ads on Facebook and give prizes to readers in order to get more "likes" for an author page. But a post on an author “like” page will only get a dozen or so views nowundefinedunless you pay extra feesundefinedand you’re not allowed to interact on other pages or groups unless you have a personal page as well. This means a "like" page is far less important than it used to be.

It's probably a good idea to have an author "like" page so you have a Facebook presenceundefinedlike having an ad in the Yellow Pagesundefinedbut the number of "likes" has no impact on book sales. (Ditto Amazon author page "likes".)

A personal Facebook page is much more useful, but if you sign up for a personal page, you open a whole new worm-can. You're at the mercy of malevolent fellow authors who mark your blog links as “spam” in order to get you put into FB jail and block people from visiting your blog. There are no humans at FB to contact to report this kind of abuse. Believe me. I have sent at least two complaining emails a week to dozens of addresses. I have never had a response, and they still block this blog as spam.

At the same time, Facebook encourages real spammers, scammers and gamers who try to trick you into giving the personal information of all your friends so they can sell it to marketers.

And as far as privacy goesundefinedyou might as well live in a picture window like an Amsterdam hooker. (NSA, eat your heart out: Facebook has been invading our privacy for years in ways governments can only dream about.)

For me, Facebook is only useful to network with other writers in the various FB writing groups and to announce freebie and sale days on pages like Free Kindle and Nook Deals , 99 Cent Kindle Deals. (There are hundreds of these. It’s kind of a crapshoot which ones will work.)

Requiring an author to have a certain number of Facebook likes/friends is even more pointless than the Twitter-follower thing, since you have to pay to have any of these people see your posts.

NOTE: These days I think a writer can do much better finding readers on a smaller social network like RedRoom, SheWrites, or myWANAundefinedsites where both readers and writers congregate and you can engage with people. (Goodreads can be good too, but they have a bully problem, and I find it incredibly hard to navigate.)

Even simply commenting regularly on blogs like this one can help form community and get your name out there. If I see a new book by somebody who's commented on my blog, or Kristen's or Nathan'sundefinedyeah, you bet I'm going to check it out. Much more than if I get a notice of a book launch from one of my 600 "friends" on Facebook.

3) Amassing a huge list of email addresses for a newsletter

I’ve resisted the pressure to start up a newsletter. I do send a private email to a few selected friends to announce new blogposts, but that’s it. That’s because I hate newsletters. They’re mostly rehashed content from blogs or websites and chest-beating self-praise.

A lot of spam-blocker programers seem to feel the same way, because most spam-blockers will block anything sent to more than ten addresses.

So I was so glad to run across a post from marketing guru Jon Morrow last week called "Why You Shouldn't Create a Newsletter."

“Newsletters are so 2005” is the way he put it. He says blogs are much more effective, and it’s annoying overkill to have both.

He says, “publishing [used to be] a one-way street. You wrote a newsletter, article, or white paper, sent it to your readers, and they either read it or ignored it. End of story.With social media though, communication now flows both ways.

Yes, we still publish information, but now our readers respond back to us, leaving comments, sharing with their friends, and linking to us from their own blogs and websites. It’s a complete game changer.

Rather than publishing an article you like and hoping your readers enjoy it, now you know what they think within a matter of minutes. You can also compare the response to different articles to see what your readers enjoy most.”

He also points out that blogposts can be tweeted and shared with thousands, instead of forwarded to one person (if you’re lucky.)

In other words: newsletters are old news.

And as for sending them out to everybody who has ever commented on your blog or emailed you: just don’t. No matter how much your marketing department hammers you to do it. Not only is it likely to end up in a spam folder, but mass-marketing to people who are not your fans only annoys them.

Establish an enticing blog and enable email subscriptions to blog updates. It's more interactive and up-to-date than a newsletter and accomplishes the same goal.

4) Participating in expensive, grueling blog tours

I’m not against blog tours. My sales spike when I visit other blogs. And a professional blog tour organizer can be hugely valuable in helping you target blogs where your potential readers congregate.

But those big, month-long “blog tours” are usually too expensive to be cost-effective and often create an unpleasant experience for authors and bloggers alike.

Part of the problem is that the publicist or marketer who sends you on the “tour” is making money, and the tour host is making moneyundefinedbut the bloggers you visit aren’t making a dime. These are the people who are doing the actual work of reading, reviewing and interviewing. It can make for an unbalanced relationship that can cause bad feelings on both sides.

I know for a fact that many blog tour organizers do not do their homework, because they’re always writing asking me to review books.

Um, see any book reviews around here?

Ebooks do not have to be marketed like pbooks with a big splashy launch and a “tour”. You can build readership slowly, since e-retailers have infinite shelf space and your book won’t be returned if it doesn’t make huge sales in its first month.

That means the blog-till-you-drop $2000 blog tour is idiotic.

Instead, you can guest blog once or twice a month throughout the year. And instead of paying somebody to find the bloggersundefinedwho may be burned out by the time you show upundefinednetwork with book bloggers in your genre yourself. Read their reviews and interviews and comment on them. Devoting a few minutes a day to “blog touring” instead of an intense, soul-crushing month will bring you better rewards.

Or visit five or six blogs at the time of your launch instead of fifty. A blog tour service that’s very affordable and allows for small tours is Black, White, and Read Tours, which was formed by three book bloggers who only charge a small amount for their time and have respectful relationships with the bloggers you’ll visit.

5) Blogging every day

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how I feel about frantic, frequent blog-posting. I’m an advocate of Slow Blogging. You can read about the Slow Blog Manifesto here.

Advice to blog every day comes from the Jurassic days of the Weblog, when there were maybe 10,000 of them, not uncountable billions. Your readers can’t keep up. Bloggers who blog every day are likely to 1) Blather-blog, because they run out of things to say 2) Burn themselves out. 3) Have no time to write new books 4) Annoy readers with too many notifications of new posts.

I’m so grateful to bloggers who only have one or two great posts a month. I can enjoy their work instead of tearing through it or feeling guilty I'm skipping it.

A blog is the best place to establish a Web presence, build platform and interact with readers, but you can do that with weekly or bi-weekly posts.

Remember readers have lives. And chances are very good they don’t revolve around you.

6) Blog hopping

Blog Hops are big in the indie author community and can be fun. They're a good way for newbies to meet and network with other writers and get some blog followers when you're starting out.

But when you're a working, publishing author, a blog hop can be a huge time suck that offers little reward. They generally don't reach readersundefinedjust other authors, who are not your best audience.

"Hops" often involve a big prize like an iPad to be given in some contest that involves Tweeting frantically and making lots of comments on dozens of blogs. Everybody contributes a chunk of cash and some blocked author with nothing to do but Tweet and comment for a week gets an iPad.

Nice for the blocked author. Pointless for everybody else.

On the other hand, getting together with fellow authors in your genre to do a joint sale or promotion can be very successful, as I found out teaming up with other members of the "Official Chick Lit Group" on Facebook. We all posted an ad for the promo on our blogs, but didn't have to hop around to every blog or write timewasting posts and identical, inane comments. A much better use of everybody's time.

7) Worrying about your Klout, PeerIndex or other social media rating

Social media ranking systems like Klout and PeerIndex show one thing: how much time you spend on the Internet instead of writing books. If you're dealing with marketers who are in love with numbers for their own sake, I hereby bestow a rank of 10 million ARA points on each of you.

When somebody puts you down for not having a Klout rating over 80, just roll your eyes and say "Klout is so over. I have 10 million ARA points." Then get out the smelling salts. Big, meaningless numbers make these people swoon.

The best way to sell books is to write more books. Good ones. There may be authors who can actually churn out twelve good books a year, but I sure can’t. None of my favorite authors can either. A good book is thoughtful and reflects life experience.

If you’re chained to your computer, mindlessly Tweeting, blogging about your writer's block, and posting LOL Cat pictures to Facebook, you're not experiencing life, so you're not going to have much to write about.

Yes, we all have to be on social media. An author needs to have a Web presence, be Googleable, and offer fans a way to interact. But we need to be smart about itundefinedand never forget our main job is to write those books.

What about you, scriveners? Do you feel pressured to waste time in frantic busy-work? What do you find sells books right now? Can you recommend a smaller social network where writers and readers can get to know each other?


My publisher has made the Camilla box set ridiculously cheap for beach season.

99 cents for three hilarious mysteries!

Available on Amazon US, NOOK, and Amazon UK


Susan Tuttle:
Susan pic June 2 13

Of Farm Fields and Writers Block

by Susan Tuttle

The latest update of WordPress has caused two major problems. Until some extra code is placed in the proper config file (whatever that is), I can’t post any photos. And they don’t seem to be in a great hurry to fix the problem, either. Not the world’s best news for a blog that is based on photos, is it? Especially since I’m a self-styled techno-dummy and don’t even understand what I’m talking about here.

They also left out the code that lets one post links to other sites. The photo problem is fixable if you’re a computer whiz, but so far no one seems to an answer to the link problem. We’ll have to do it the old way: copy and paste into a new window in our browser instead of executing a simple mouse click. Sigh…

So, until I can con my computer guru son (who’s still working off in trade the ten grand he drank in orange juice while growing up) into inserting tab “Code A” into slot “Config B” so I can at least get back to photos, I’m stuck with only words. Oh, what a tragedy for a writer.  

; )

But today, while I was driving into town to meet a friend, I had a thought that doesn’t necessarily need a photo (though an illustrative one would be nice…). I was driving down a long, lovely country lane. Newly plowed fields of dark, rich earth stretched out on both sides of the road. The deep mahogany soil made the leaves of both trees and bushes glow. The air shimmered with a clean, refreshing light. These fields had lain fallow yesterday, covered with an unruly mob of drab, dissonant weeds. Today those weeds had been plowed under to enrich the moist chocolate soil that now lay ready to accept seed and nourish fledgling plants into the joy of maturity.

And I thought: Writer’s block. Not that ephemeral kind that lasts a mere day or two, but the long-term, four month/six month/twelve month or longer period of devastating desert dryness. That writer’s block, I thought, is like a fallow field, a dull blank expanse that lies inert, capturing the detritus of thought and dream and experience. In the fullness of time our imagination plows under what seems useless. Inspiration then waters the newly plowed field. Then the seed of plot and situation, or perhaps character, is winnowed from the chaff and planted in the deep rich soil to be nourished by plowed-under scraps of life until a new story sprouts, grows and comes into fruition.

Writers are not machines that can work on and on, never resting. Without a fallow period, the genius of writing cannot sprout, for it has no nourishment on which to feed.

So how can a writer survive the dry desert of writer’s block?

Don’t fear it. Never fear it. Fear is what keeps the block strong and arid. Fear is what stops the plowing under. Instead, celebrate writer’s block when it arrives, as it will for all of us at least once in our writing life. Use the fallow time to live, to love, to experience. Soon it will all be plowed under, giving nourishment to another round of the genius of creation: stories richer and more compelling than any you’ve crafted before.

Andrea Chmelik 
Click here:

Paul Alan Fahey on The Other Man

The Other Man

The Other Man by Paul Alan Fahey is now available in e-book format!

The road to finding the right publisher for your literary labor of love can be a rocky one; this was definitely the case with The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly about Sex, Love, Infidelity, & Moving On. Most editors and writers will tell you that having an agent, a solid book proposal and a great list of contributors are definite assets, but they don't necessarily guarantee publication.

What I've learned is this: Unless you are a well-known commodity as a writer/editor, have edited numerous best selling collections, and have had previous books featured in major book clubs along with great sales, there are too many other variables in the marketing process that conflict with automatic success. This is not to say it can't happen to someone like me: an unknown someone with a list of decent publication credits, professional contacts and an excellent agent. Against all odds -- cue the Phil Collins movie soundtrack -- The Other Man became a reality. It's true, and I have a copy of the book sitting on a shelf by my computer to prove it. It just took a lot of patience, time and a tremendous amount of luck to make it happen.

The Other Man's journey from proposal to print took almost three years. My writer friends tell me this was fast. Really?

Here's what happened:

By late fall, 2010, I had what everyone considered an excellent book proposal, the go ahead to write the gay companion to The Other Woman -- a huge national best seller -- from that anthology's editor, Victoria Zackheim, and by early 2011, a terrific agent in my corner. My agent sent the proposal out to LGBT publishers. Some responded. Many didn't. In summer, 2011, given the feedback my agent received, I revamped the proposal and wrote a new introduction, asked contributors for samples of their essays, etc. My agent sent out the second proposal. We waited.

In late 2011, The Other Man got a bite from a respected LGBT publisher. The editors were split down the middle. Half loved the proposal, half didn't. We were down to the wire. Our emails crisscrossed cyberspace for several weeks. I asked a few of my contributors to send me more essays for the editors to review; my guys were terrific and sent me their work. Then a week or so later, the final decision not to publish arrived in my inbox, along with a comment from one of the editors -- I'm paraphrasing here -- "Why would gay men be interested in reading about infidelity?" Hmm.

In early 2012, on my own and without my agent's involvement -- she doesn't handle short works -- I published a novella, The View From 16 Podwale Street, with JMS Books. At some point, I told my publisher, J.M. Snyder, about the proposed anthology and she wrote back saying she was interested. I was thrilled. The anthology was going to be a reality. Things were finally looking up for The Other Man. But then came another unanticipated problem: Several contributors, thinking the book wasn't happening, had dropped out and had gone on to other projects. It was then back to the drawing board and another search for well-respected, high quality writers to complete the contributor list.

In short, The Other Man, my three-year labor of love, is out today as an e book from JMS Books, with a print version to follow on May 31. How did I get so lucky? And the best part of the bargain is this: A portion of the proceeds from all sales will go to a charity near to all of our hearts, the It Gets Better Project. A win-win situation for everyone. Yes, it can happen. And it finally did.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

But wait - there's more -

The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly About Sex, Love, Infidelity &
Moving On

Edited by Paul Alan Fahey

³Impassioned, witty, powerful voices examine infidelity and its effects on
love, trust and truth."
---Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author of Night Terrors: A Daniel
Rinaldi Mystery.

³Full of bad behavior and ugly emotions. Contains some fine truths and
excellent storytelling."
---Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Eminent Outlaws.

³By turns sprightly, poignant, piquant, sexy, scary, keen, naïve,
heartbreaking. ²
---Richard Stevenson, Lambda Award-winning author of the Don Strachey
private eye novels.

³Something for everyone regardless of your sexual orientation. A delight to
read such great writing.²

---Regina Anavy, Writer/Editor/Essayist

Honey French:
Honey writes:

Here is a link Bill Morem's article on Honey that was published on March 20 2013

Also on March 29, Honey was featured on a two-hour live steam on Satellite TV program The Way TV about my life and my book Officer Honey. The program went into a potential 40 million homes across the Middle East and North Africa, America and Canada.

Kudos to Honey!

CS Perryess:

CLICK HERE:  Please see on this site, links to the short story that won the 2012 Ingrid Reti Award and a lot more from this very talented writer.

Chester's bio in his own words:

"I mostly write teen fiction, though I occasionally dabble in adult & middle grade short fiction. My short stories have appeared in Highlights for Children, READ, Pangolin Papers, Eureka, Short Story, & others, & have made it into anthologies four times, once in a Darby Creek publication to rub elbows with stories by Joseph Bruchac, David Lubar, & Terry Trueman, & once with Heinemann to slip between the covers with the likes of Vivian Vande Velde, Avi, Gloria Skurzynski, & Neal Shusterman. Under the tutelage of fellow Nightwriter, Anne Allen, I'm in the process of pulling together a short story collection I hope to make available as an e-book, & I'm still trying to get a traditional publisher to buy one of my completed teen novels. I've been in a Nightwriters critique group for 17 or 18 years & I'm an avid member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators), & co-coordinator for our county. Oh, & I teach middle school. Just in case all that doesn' keep me busy enough, I've launched myself into the world of audiobook narrating. To date I've narrated two Scottish zombie books for Crossroads Press & hope to finish my third in a couple of weeks. At that point, I'll start in on what will be my fourth audiobook, which is a middle grade book for Do Life Right, Inc.
Life is good."

Judy Salamacha


Judy Salamacha covers the Central Coast communities of Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos/Baywood for her Monday column in the San Luis Obispo Tribune ( She is the Director for the Central Coast Writers' Conference, scheduled during the 3rd weekend of September for 28 years ( & FaceBook: CentralCoastWritersConference).

Judy is Program Chairman for SLO NightWriters, which meets the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7pm at the PG&E Education Center (

And she is active with the Cayucos Seniors and the Commission on Aging.

Formerly from Bakersfield, California, her latest all-consuming project is co-writing a book about the city’s namesake, Colonel Thomas Baker, titled Colonel Baker’s Field with Sandy Mittelsteadt and Chris Brewer, the great, great grandson of Colonel Baker. Jody Salamacha Hollier is illustrating the book due out late spring 2012.

Corrie Lynne Player



Educated in child care and family-related issues, Corrie Lynne Player has written for national magazines such as Family Circle, Parents, and Ladies Home Journal, as well as regional magazines and newspapers. Her published work includes Anchorage Altogether (a book of essays about parenting in Alaska), Dreams Do Come True (the biography of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television), So Your Teen Knows All the Answers (a survival manual for parents of teenagers), and two on-going weekly columns on parenting and relationships, both published under the title "Heaven Help Us."

ToTony Piazzany Piazza:

In the 1970s Tony worked in the film and television industry with such stars as Michael Douglas, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, & Clint Eastwood.
Published Mystery Writer - "Anything Short of Murder" (see our MEMBERS' BOOKS page). Has a second book, an action, adventure novel, due to be published in March 2012. Member of Sister's in Crime, L.A. and Central Coast Chapter.

Anne R. Allen:

The author of five comic mysteries that debuted in 2011: Food of Love, The Gatsby Game, Ghostwriters in the Sky, Sherwood, Ltd, and The Best Revenge, with two publishers: Popcorn Press and MWiDP (see our MEMBERS' BOOKS page).  Anne's now working on a survival handbook for writers with Pay it Forward author Catherine Ryan Hyde, to be published by MWiDP in June 2012. She blogs with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris.

Dennis Eamon Young

President, Art Director and Photographer for SLO NightWriters. Dennis is a writer and professional photographer living in Shell Beach. Though he photographs everything, he specializes in portraits and commercial photography, and works on his stories and novels between photography sessions. Dennis began his photography career in New York City in 1969, with magazine and advertising assignments. He is a genuine people person and enjoys being a member of SLO NightWriters as both a writer and as staff photographer. You can email him at:; or write to him at PO Box 3438, Shell Beach, CA 93449

Anne Schroeder:

Anne Schroeder, many times published author (see our MEMBERS' BOOKS page), blogs about the small daily steps to a creative and fulfilling life. She draws from her hyphenated life as a mother-daughter-sister-redneck wife-baby boomer-too busy to live-grandma-writer and soulful observer of life. She invites you to follow her sometimes funny, always evocative essays and share your own experiences.

Evelyn Cole: Author, Gourmet Chef, and Ping Pong Champ! Champ!

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