Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

I just got home from being with 26 writers who showed up to help each other, and, I am still smiling.

Thank you, Marlene, for having created the Writers Forum of Petaluma. What a caring community you have attracted!

Tonight, Mickie, Carol, Jeanne, Malena, Nancy, Claudia, Eva, Elaine, Catherine, Susan, Christina, Connie, John, Janice, Meta, Armando, Linda, Brenda, Nancy, Mona, Dave, Sharon, Karen, Pat, Elizabeth and Marlene all helped me facilitate “Swap Meet/Circle of Sharing.”

These generous writers brought items from the list I had presented to Marlene months ago. Items included: Submission guidelines from agents and publishers; publications that accept unsolicited submissions; info on writers’ conferences, classes, workshops, writing contests; calendar of community events.

What was the purpose of the swap meet? To demonstrate that there are opportunities for all of us to sharpen our writing and marketing skills (conferences, workshops), compete for awards (contests), identify publications or agents, acquisition editors and publishers most suitable for the type of writing we wish to sell; be in the greater community to build relationships and write about the experiences.

Be the Matchmaker for Your Writing:

How to find the “right” agent or publisher (for books) or the “right” publication (for articles, essays, short stories, poetry): Examples: If you write novels for teens, pitch your work to agents or publishers who specialize in selling that genre. If you write personal essays, submit your work to publications that typically publish personal essays. Sending your work to places that don’t have the readership/audience for your type of writing is “rejection waiting to happen.” In other words: “Give them what they want.”

Honoring Instructions:

Whether you’re looking at submission guidelines or writing-contest rules, create a checklist so that you don’t miss any steps. In any competition, the contestants who follow instructions make the first cut. Again… “Give them what they want.”

Be True to Yourself:

What if you don’t want a website or a blog, not even an email address? That’s okay. You don’t want them because you don’t need them right now. Don’t force yourself. When the need arises, then, reconsider. Focus on what needs to be done, right now. If what needs to be done is your writing a letter to a friend who suffered a loss, then, that piece of writing would be the greatest gift you can give to your friend and yourself. If a mentor/colleague/friend says: “Everyone is doing [it] and if you want to succeed you’d better do [it] too!” . . . but your intuition says: “I’m not comfortable with the idea” . . . please trust your inner voice. My motto: I do what brings me joy and light; stress I don’t want.

Reaching Out (not stressing out):

Because we are writers, we can do outreach without leaving our homes.

We can write:

* “Letters to the Editor.”
* Book reviews on or bookstores’ websites or publishers’ websites or authors’ websites.
* Thank you notes to people who have inspired us.
* Tips on how to have fun and excel (in our hobbies).
* About our experiences after attending an event or receiving service (this could be as simple as posting a rating and review on
* on our blogs and post comments on other people’s blogs.
* an article for our club’s newsletter. Offer to write a recap of a meeting (focus on what you gained).

Why do I write?

· To connect with the reader on an emotional level.

· To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

· To honor the people in the stories.

Why do YOU write?

“Goodnight and sweet dreams” to the awesome members of the Writers Forum of Petaluma who made “circle of sharing” a huge success. I encourage you to do a little outreach with the members who were not able to show up tonight. Ask each other these questions: “How are you doing with your project? What do you need to get to the next step?”


Teresa LeYung Ryan

Visit: for more information on the Writers Forum of Petaluma.

Teresa LeYung Ryan’s Tips for Success

In the fiercely competitive arena of the publishing world, how does one stand out in a crowd? Building relationships is one key to success in this business. Another key is to know how to translate the themes from your life to your writing and articulate those themes as community concerns. I want to see all hardworking writers realize their dreams.

  • Make every word count—especially in your query letter and synopsis.
  • Research when looking for an agent or acquisition editor/publisher. Who are their clients? How well are they connected in the industry?
  • Learn about the industry yourself. Join organizations; talk to people in the business; find mentors; find joyful ways to network and gain resources.
  • Say “Thank you” whenever anyone helps you. Being courteous goes a long way.
  • Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your dreams and encourage others to do the same.
  • Keep voicemails and E-mails succinct. Use bullet-points when asking questions.
  • Follow-through will save you from “I assumed…” headaches.
  • Remember that perseverance + talent + business savvy = dreams come true.

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5 Responses to “Writers at the Writers Forum of Petaluma Make Me Smile”

  • Malena says:

    I am so glad to read that you enjoyed the meeting, Teresa, as much and I and the other participating writers did. You are an awesome speaker, very inspirational, but beyond that you gave us practical things we can do to further our writing careers.
    The writing life is probably the same as it’s always been, but publishing has changed so much it’s enough to get a girl down. But I refuse to give up the fight because the rules have changed for the worse. Since hearing you speak, I feel I have tools now to get me back on track with my writing and a lot more enthusiasm where promotion and publicity are concerned.
    Thank you, Teresa, for a wonderful evening. And good luck to you in all the work you do.

  • Christina Gleason says:

    Kudos to Marlene for bringing you, Theresa, to Petaluma.
    In the spirit of your inspiration and joyful energy, thank you, Theresa, for coming to Petaluma Writers Forum. You made the “art of writing” and its necessary twin “getting it out there” not so intimidating from my personal standpoint. Yesterday I bought two red chairs: first reason: practicality and need; second: just because, because it’s a lyrical red chair; because it’s a hawthorne berry red, to me the color of joy – as you say ” write for the joy of it.” Perhaps, it will call me to write, to sit happily in joy, hopefully to put forth some words with which to work with and who knows, perhaps someday publish! Thank you so very much for sharing both the “ins & outs” of the hard work as well the joyfulness of writing at an informative and uplifting presentation.

  • Malena,
    You are right-on about the dramatic changes in the publishing world. The only way to compete is to build relationships with folks in the industry as well as folks in other industries. Neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, friends, and family members were my biggest cheer leaders—-they made me “famous on my block” which then rippled into a bigger radius. Thank you for showing up Thursday evening. Showing up for the Self and Colleagues is the greatest gift we can give.

    Yes to being joyful in writing and showcasing our work.
    I too have a red chair. Creating lovely space for the writer honors the self and the craft. When my work space is uncluttered, my writing is more focused. Thank you for being there Thursday evening. Happy writing in your new red chair!

  • I am glad I decided to attend Thursdays Writer’s Forum meeting and see you in action. You have such great energy and passion about your work. I wrote about it at Eight Women Dream ( too. You opened my eyes to other ways of marketing, and to remember to introduce ourselves as writers. I am in awe of those living my dream and found you to be a gracious, kind and an adorable muse. Thank you.

  • Uttetsunsopsy says:

    My computer worked not correctly, many mistakes and buggs. Help me, please to fix buggs on my computer.
    I used Windows XP.

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