Monday, June 24, 2013


What’s new? An agent and a publicist!

I can’t believe it either! I am so excited. It proves net working at a conference like the Santa Barbara Writer’s conference is important.  I can’t wait to tell you about the big changes I am sure my new team will bring to my platform.

The conference was packed with over fifty hours of seminars by experts in their field. Nightly speakers demonstrated examples of the heights I can reach if I apply my passion and write laboriously. And aaah, the agents who represented publishers from many of the big presses courted me like arrogant suitors. So who did I bring home?

An agent and a publicist! Many know what a publicist does, but people are not always clear about an agent’s duties.
Agents are the messengers - the go-betweens - between the author and the publisher. The represent the author and  handle the contractual agreement between the two. The agent of today, many times, wears an editor’s hat as well.Check out the Five Tips to Finding An Agent.

  Before the conference I read my agent's bio and selected to meet him on the Meet The Agent Day at the conference. His bio picture must have been doctored or taken during his prime because he was not what I’d expected.

The conference organizers allowed authors only ten minutes with their respective agents in which time they would discuss the first five pages of the author’s completed manuscript. The big room was dotted with reps from all big name publishing houses. My guy sat over in the corner as if shunned by his peers.

What he lacked in the handsome, three-piece-suit department he more than compensated for in enthusiasm. We hit it off immediately. He liked to travel and had a cat. I liked that he liked to travel and had a cat.I liked that he liked my writing. 

We carried on about books and places we both had visited, almost missing the afternoon wine and cheese party at the pool. He explained he was a twin and had been separated at birth from his brother. A chill crawled up my spine when I suddenly realized who he reminded me of. Could this be the brother of Jack Incarnate, aka Cowboy Jack? I kept my musings to myself.

He reviewed my five pages and expressed he couldn’t wait to read the rest of the story. He leaned across the table and shared his first gem about writing. “It’s the first five pages that make or break a book,” he said. “That’s it. If you don’t hook the reader, me, and, most importantly, the publisher in those five pages, you’re dead.” I heard this at every seminar but his intensity made me heed his words. He then shuffled around a couple of sentences on my manuscript, and announced, “ Now it pops.” I was sold. “Sign me up,” I said.

Writing is rewriting, he reminded. He encouraged me to keep up my blogs and handed me a list of seven reasons to publish a blog.. Perhaps some of them  will encourage you to get the hammer out and  start building your platform.
Here are the seven reasons you should create your own professional or interest-based blog:
  1. Your blog is an online advertisement for your writing or editing services, or for documents or publications you write or your company produces.
  2. Your blog is an extension of your résumé that allows you to present content about your professional experience, as well as writing samples, in one convenient location.
  3. Your blog will convey your personality, allowing prospective collaborators, clients, and employers to gain a good first impression of you.
  4. Your blog enables you to network with other writers and editors or other people in your industry or sphere of interest.
  5. Your blog demonstrates to prospective associates that you are passionate and knowledgeable about the subject area you blog about.
  6. Your blog establishes you as an expert (or someone with interest if not expertise) and as someone who engages in extra effort to acquire and share knowledge and information about a profession or area of interest.
  7. Your blog provides you with a forum for developing your communication skills — not just writing but also video and audio, as well as interactivity such as networking, commenting on other websites and blogs, and responding to comments on your blog.
(Taken from www.Tips on – 7 Reasons to Publish A Blog.)

Yesterday my agent drove from LA to meet with me and go over some fine points of our contract. We sat outside at the Starbucks in the Country Market Place in Menifee. The warm afternoon, the splashing from the fountain and the aroma of Chipotle’s Mexican menu made my day magical as I signed the papers.

Meet my agent, Jacque B.Sellinit, from the St. Harley Rules Press. Let's see how much he'll "be sellin' it" for me.Could my agent's missing brother actually be Jack Incarnate aka, Cowboy Jack?
My agent, Jack B. Sellinit, from Harley Rules Press enjoying the wine and cheese party at the 2013 Santa Barbara Writers Conference. ( Hope he'll be "sellin' my books.)

We met at the Country Market Place in Menifee, Ca. to wrap up the final details of our contract.

To meet my publicist, click on the link below and Sportster will explain his duties and what he has planned for our marketing program. Yes, that’s correct. Sportster will be my new publicist. See what he has planned for me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

AGENTS ARE PEOPLE TOO - What I learned at SBWC 2013

- Agents are people too.
What I learned at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference

Agents have a job to do:  Sell books to publishers.

A long time ago I sold life insurance. I lasted only a year before I felt the need to become an alcoholic. The stress of convincing people to buy something they believed they did not need stoked the urge to drink even though insurance did fill a gap in many portfolios. Sales and rejection share the same shelf.

Like life insurance representatives, literary agents stand in the middle, representing the life or death of an author’s manuscript - a work of art filled with the writer’s passion and faith, and hope their creation will become the Great American Novel. If only….

There lies the rub.

This year’s agents’ panel represented all generations of agents. Toni Lopolo, who opened with the same line as last year,” The name is Hawaiian not Italian,”  displayed her antiquated attitude toward  the evolving industry by asking Marla Miller “What is this new term, The, Entrepreneurial Author?”
 Kat Brzozowski, the youngest agent and first timer at the conference became excited when I told her the energy at last year’s panel became a little heated. Her spirit and forward thinking will carry her the distance in this new age of publishing.

Agents occupy the front lines in the war between writers and publishers and those who have survived are donning more than one hat. They have added editing and workshops to their shingles. And like everyone, some hang on to old ideas while others embrace the future of publishing with anticipation.

Agents’ jobs are like other jobs, filled with rejection – angry clients and demanding bosses.

As people,we are all on the same exhilarating ride filled with a passion to share ourselves and create, in this case, The Great American Novel.

Friday, June 14, 2013



At the age of ninety, Fred Klein’s years are woven into the history of publishing, writing, and the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference like the words on the yellowed pages of a well-read novel. For thirty years in New York City Fred was Vice President of Bantam Books, head of marketing and ultimately Executive Editor. “Who can say these days they worked for only one company for thirty years?” Fred is astonished by his own record. of achievements. He never guessed those three decades would represent a mere third of his prestigious career.
After retiring to Santa Barbara, California he became a part of The Santa Barbara Writers Conference and helped create The Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival His literary life is rich with celebrity experiences both personal and professional. When asked, are you a dog owner, he laughs and answers in a voice as deep and rich as his career, “No dogs! I don’t look like a dog owner, do I?”
What Fred Klein doesn’t look like is his age. He leaned back is his chair comfortable with the new generation of writers before him.” I walk on the beach every day. Five years ago I had a quadruple bypass and only missed three days. Within a week it was as if I never had surgery.”
Is it difficult to keep up with the new technology, one interviewer queries? Again his voice resonates as his peeps listen. “I carry a cell phone only when I travel, and then, only to receive calls because I’m not sure how to make one.” But, in contrast, he streams weekly on the local Santa Barbara TV channel 17 called, Literary Gumbo in which he interviews authors. “I believe in giving a voice to all authors in the area.”
“Everyone has asked who I’ve published, but let me tell you about one that I didn’t publish.” Fred sat up as the memory came alive. “A man called me with a proposal for a book. The Godfather had just become a hit and the man suggested a story about what happens to the children of mafia families.” Fred agreed and grew excited about the possibility, prematurely running with the title, “Godson.”
“For the initial interview, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona and the man and I rode around the city for three hours as he elaborated about the people he’d “offed” in Las Vegas and Chicago. We couldn’t meet in public where he might be seen so he stipulated any further contacts and questions would have to be conducted through his agent.
In the publishing world everything has to be validated and indemnified. My boss insisted we had to have proof, who was this guy, who was his mafia family? So I would call the agent, his agent would call him, and then he would call me. I asked him, ‘Why are you doing this?’ He explained he was an alcoholic and joined a twelve step program and it would be his way of making amends. Finally, we insisted and the man agreed to send proof. A week later I received a video of the man I had spent three hours in the car with riding the streets of Phoenix. The clip demonstrated the man pushing another man into a vat of molten steel at an Indiana steel mill.”
“We never published the book.”
 The peeps in the crowd roared. “I have a million  stories.” He told them.
“Two weeks ago my old boss called me to tell me about a dream he had in which he and I had started a mystery book publishing company and we called it The one eighty – The two ninety year old men publishing company. We laughed it off, but who knows?”
At the age of ninety Fred Klein offered up his philosophy on the secret of growing old: Stay positive and become Involved, no matter if it is with your family, your church or your community. Find something to be committed to and become passionate about it.
Stayed tuned for Fred Klein's next thirty years. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Three and a half literary-packed days have sailed  past  like a catamaran on a windy day in the Santa Barbara harbor.Now, only two days remain, forty-eight hours to catch the last morsel of knowledge and  ride that final epic crumb of wisdom. 
Each night  we listened to prominent authors who shared their stories.Sue Grafton and Elizabeth Berg allowed us aboard their literary journeys and, like a bonfire on the beach, they stoked our passion for writing. Jervy Tervalon entertained the crowd of authors with his dry wit while he shared the tragedies of his family.

Below is a photo at the poolside wine and cheese party, a great way to unwind from  the busy schedules of seminars, panels and meeting with agents. 
On my right, Carolyn Binkley. Be sure to check out her children's book, The Errand

Carol Binkly with her book, The Errand and Stinkbugs and Grasshoppers Green.
Nicole Archambeau, Prof. of Religous Studies at USBC,hold my second book, Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost.
And me, Judy Howard, with my first book, Coast To Coast With A Cat And A Ghost.
The photo below was taken poolside at the wine and cheese party,a great way to unwind from  the busy schedules of seminars, panels and meeting with agents. 
On my Carolyn Binkley . Be sure to check out her childrens book, The Errand

Carolyn Binkley lives in the coastal town of Santa Barbara, California with her husband, two rescued dogs, one mischievous cat, and six happy hens. Her greatest passion, other than family, is writing inspirational prose, short stories, and poetry involving nature, life, and hope. Her book,The Errand… and stinkbugs and grasshoppers green,  details a young girl’s distractions with insects as she journeys through her neighbor’s yard on an errand. Writing this story, Carolyn was reminded of her own adventurous childhood and her life-long curiosity of creatures, great and small.
Carolyn and I picked up our friendship just where we left it  last year.  This conference is a family of writers.
On my left, Marla Miller, Marketing The Muse, represents the first and last words on marketing.She is the only one on the staff who boasts of her fidelity to the "Entrepreneurial Author" ( The self Published Author.) Her expertise and connections in the literary world makes her an invaluable contact and the high energy in her workshop will not allow you to doze no matter how exhausted you may be.Here's a quote from Marla's website. "During my years as Assistant Director of Santa Barbara Writers Conference, 2005-2008, I MC’ed many literary agent panels. Their denial of ‘change coming’ always astounded me. Did they think the web was just going to go away? Besides teaching at Santa Barbara Writers Conference, my favorite place to teach MarketingtheMuse workshops is at the Southern California Writers Conference.
On Marla's left is Kevin Bourke,  a Santa Barbara resident. His book, Make Your Money Last a Lifetime, should be an essential in your library if you are going to be an author.Make Your Money Last A Lifetime  And finally Mariam is an officiating minister in Santa Barbara and a good friend of Cork Millner Cork delivers an informative seminar.

Jerry Camarillo Dunn and Judy Howard brag about their books after a seminar on travel writing. at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Jerry's book,My Favorite Place on Earth, the book he is holding up, 
is only one  of many, many.Jerry's credits are endless. Here's a short bio.
"I've worked with National Geographic for 25 years, first as an editor, writer, and columnist for National Geographic Traveler magazine, then as a guidebook author, most recently of The National Geographic Traveler: San Francisco. I've also written travel guides for the Smithsonian Institution and been a contributing editor at Islands magazine.
I have written hundreds of travel pieces for magazines and newspapers. The Society of American Travel Writers has recognized my feature stories with three Lowell Thomas Awards, the Oscars of the field. For twenty years, I've been presenting travel writing workshops in venues from the University of California to SBWC.
My latest book is My Favorite Place on Earth (National Geographic), for which I interviewed 75 remarkable people, ranging from the Dalai Lama to Will Ferrell."

So that is a wrap of the first days of the conference. More to come!!

Monday, June 3, 2013


If you checked in with Sportster's blog, Sportster's blog  you know we’re heading out for our second annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

 A year ago we were only a blip on the author grid. I was nervous, excited, in awe, did I mention in awe? I attempted to attend every seminar, panel, and pirate workshop. I listened, read, wrote and even spoke on a panel. What an unforgettable experience. I met agents, writers, publishers and made unusual friends I will never forget.

I was validated and encouraged by my peers while they impressed and humbled me with their talent. I collapsed every night with words of literary wisdom swirling in my brain waiting in anticipation to be applied a page.

And now the journey begins again. Can you guess? I am nervous, excited and in awe once again. The anticipation pulses even higher because I know what lies ahead - opportunities to enhance my writing skills, make new contacts, and renew old friendships.
How did it all happen? My profession has been grooming dogs since I was eleven years old. When did I develop a talent with the pen as well as the scissors?
As a child in sneakers, I wrote in the closet. Perched on a stool, hunched over my diary, a small lamp illuminating my dreams, I wrote my secrets. What they were, I don’t recall but writing was like talking to a best friend that I didn’t have. The skirts and coats hung around me like drawn curtains hiding me from the outside world. I was safe with my secrets.

But it began before then - this ride down literary lane. It began with my mother, who was a true seeker. Liberated during WWII while Dad was away, Mom ran the household even after he returned. She managed their apartments and became a real estate broker. She trained her two daughters in the ways of independence and she wrote children’s’ stories in her spare time.

Digging through a trunk filled with sepia memories, locks of hair and death certificates, I discovered The Redbird Stories by Wilma Holvey. Reading her words etched on the onion skin paper by her Smith Corona typewriter, produced visions of my sister and I snuggled up under each of her arms as she read her creation. The stories gave me a new understanding and connection to my mother. She, too, was an aspiring author, and so I have inherited the words that run in my blood.

I won’t be alone in Santa Barbara.