Dear WOTS

As you prepare for the upcoming 31st annual Write on the Sound writers’ conference (Sept. 30, Oct 1 & 2), take a moment to read the following letter we received from attendee Diana J. Noble. Congratulations, Diana!

Hello WOTS Committee:

I have good news I want to share connected to WOTS!

I started writing my first fiction novel approximately six years ago. About six months into it, someone recommended I attend the Write on the Sound Conference, especially since it’s in my hometown! It was my first-ever writers’ conference, and I was somewhat nervous about it having no idea what to expect and not knowing a soul there.

Turns out, it was one of the best things I could have done.

First, I met up with a long lost coworker who turned out to be a newly published author. She was teaching one of the breakout sessions. Her co-instructor was someone with decades in the publishing business and loads of expertise and experience. After the conference, I wound up taking one of their classes and met a well-established writing professor and published author, whom I’ve kept in touch with ever since. Both WOTS instructors have also been an ongoing source of information and motivation.

Second, in one of the breakout sessions, I described the nature of my book (middle grade historical fiction about a Mexican girl during the Mexican Revolution). Another participant slipped me a note with some very encouraging words about the importance of my subject matter and how it would address the diversity gap in children’s books.  I kept that note for a long time as inspiration to keep at it when things felt hopeless.

Third, my manuscript critique at WOTS was with a former publicity director of a big publishing house. She encouraged me to start a writer’s blog chronicling my journey, which I did! I’ve kept in touch with her as well off and on all these years, and the blog was something I advertised when querying agents and publishers.

Finally, after 4 years of writing and another year of shopping my book around, I got a contract offer from Arte Público out of the University of Houston. My novel, Mariposa, will be published next fall. I’m now writing my second novel, a women’s fiction comedy, and looking forward to this year’s WOTS conference.

Regards,
Diana J Noble

An Ergo Dynamic WOTS

PA Brodyby Paula Rae Brody
WOTS Steering Committee

Write on the Sound is only a month away. You’ve selected workshops and you’re excited and ready to write your way forward. But, have you thought about the ergo dynamics of a three day conference?  While your fingers itch to create and your brain explodes with ideas, don’t forget to think of the other parts of you that might need a little attention.

Now I don’t mean to make this difficult, but after years of attending WOTS, I’ve gathered a few tips that will help make your experience a comfortable one. You’ll notice the bag you thought was so clever to bring has become ponderous and grown substantially as you visit the bookshop, meet new friends and collect their cards, take more notes, and gather material from the resource table. Think about bringing an easy to carry bag, freeing your hands. Plus, your arms will thank you.

You’ll find this conference so stimulating, yet think about all the hours of sitting—and bring a small pillow. Yes, a pillow. You’ll be ever so happy.

In this age of small devices and the intricacies of technology, as you set up your laptop, maybe looking for an outlet, you’ll notice others with pen in hand watching you struggle to manage space for you and your equipment. Ask for a clipboard when you check-in. Old fashioned, I know, but designed for a purpose.

As the conference comes to a close, you, with your bountiful set of ideas and renewed passion to write, will find these few tender suggestions make a full weekend of learning all the easier to take in.

Turn the pages of your own future. Enjoy your WOTS weekend!


A Washington native, Paula Rae Brody has led an international life. Married to a retired diplomat, her professional career spanned the globe as a flight attendant with TWA for twenty-five years. Her book, CCAM: Women In Development in Malawi was commissioned by the former First Lady of Malawi. She has written for many non-profits, always highlighting the positive in any effort made by those willing to help others.

Proverbial Advice

Susanby Susan Ferguson
WOTS Steering Committee

When doing some research, I stumbled upon several interesting proverbs and reflected on their global universality.  Proverbs, whether from Africa, Asia or England, are pithy sayings, often allegorical, that give advice based on common sense or practical experience.

  • “A tree is known by its fruit” is of Zulu origin, and means you should judge a person by his deeds not his words.
  • “The old horse in the stable still yearns to run” is of Chinese origin and means older people still have things they want to accomplish.
  • “Even a small star shines in the darkness” is of Finnish origin and means all people have worth.

Registration for the 2016 Write on the Sound Conference opens at 9:00 a.m. on July 18th. The proverb that comes to mind is “the early bird catches the worm”.  This year’s conference offers writers a tremendous lineup of presenters whose expertise will help you hone your craft. Each session can accommodate a limited number of people and the sessions fill up fast.  If you wait to register, some of the sessions you want may already be full.

“The early bird catches the worm” is of English origin and means those who act quickly will have an advantage.  The proverb was first recorded in John Ray’s “A Collection of English Proverbs” in 1670 as “The early bird catcheth the worm.”

So, be the early bird that “catcheth” the worm and register for the conference as soon as you can. After all, “Life is short, art is long” (of Greek origin and means it takes a long time to perfect one’s craft and there’s a short time in which to do it).

Hope you have a great conference experience!


Susan Lehne Ferguson is a writer who savors getting lost in her work.  A former lawyer, Susan has written a screenplay that was optioned, and a book called “Lopez Island”, published by Arcadia Publishing. Susan is President of EPIC Group Writers, has considerable editing experience, and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Rutgers School of Law and the UW Writing Certificate Program. Susan is at work on a historical novel called “Follow the Condition of the Mother”, the story of four generations in 1750-1840 Charleston.  She lives in Edmonds with her husband, and enjoys their large, eclectic family.

Three Ways to Get More from Write On The Sound

J_Otnessby Joanne Otness
Former WOTS Committee Chair


Make 2016 the year to add something new to your WOTS weekend. Whether you’re a regular attendee or this is your first conference, you may be looking for something extra to add to your conference experience.

WOTS offers a variety of 75-minute workshops on Saturday and Sunday covering topics from memoir writing to building an author platform. But here are some added possibilities.

—Enter the WOTS writing contest
—Submit your manuscript for a one-on-one critique
—Attend a longer workshop on Friday pre-conference day

First— the writing contest. Consider this year’s writing contest theme, “What I Know Now,” and accept the challenge of producing a short writing sample for sharing publicly. Allowing others to read your work can be an intimidating step in your writer’s journey. Maybe you suffer from fear of success, fear of failure, an urge to keep your writing your own personal secret (raise your hand if any of these apply to you!) But here’s a chance to have your work read by experienced contest judges— published authors with a wealth of knowledge and the desire to help. A little scary? Yes. A lot helpful. Yes!

Second— manuscript critique. Gulp. This opportunity offers a one-on-one meeting for a manuscript evaluation. What can you gain? Some hands-on experience in taking your writing to the next level and thinking about your work as if you’re submitting for publication. You may be stuck in the first part of your project or perhaps have lost confidence in it altogether. Encouragement and advice from an experienced author/teacher helps!

Third— Friday pre-conference workshops. Add an extra day to your focused writing weekend and sign up for one of the four workshops offered on Friday. Each one is a chance to expand your writing skill.
This year’s topics:
Deep Editing Power and Writing Fresh Body Language
Crafting Your Personal Essay
Living Dialogue
Craft and Confidence

WOTS started as a one-day conference and has expanded to a three-day offering. Take advantage of it!


Joanne Otness lives in Edmonds, WA and served for 8 years as an Edmonds Arts Commissioner and Chair of the WOTS Steering committee. Joanne was an international flight attendant with travel assignments around the world. She loves travel, dogs of all shapes and sizes, gardening, the arts, and double-tall Starbucks lattes. Team writing as Molly Charles, she has co-authored two novels. She’s drawn again and again by the allure of the Hawaiian Islands—the setting for Passion Flowers, coming soon from The Wild Rose Press.

A Room of One’s Own

judith worksby Judith Works
WOTS Steering Committee


Every writer I know has a special place to write: the kitchen table, a local coffee house, a studio, or like me, my own room. Over several years I’ve made a spare bedroom into a personalized space with objects to spur creativity. Yes, it has a desk and file cabinet, a PC and a printer, and of course a chair. And an old jam jar for pens and pencils, and an overflowing wastebasket. Dictionaries fill the space behind the computer: French, Italian, even an old Latin one I ran across; my well-thumbed Thesaurus, The Chicago Manual of Style, The Oxford Dictionary of Phrases, Sayings and Quotations, and The Oxford Classical Dictionary. They are supported by pink and red marble bookends from a shop in Florence, Italy. The bookends, like all the rest of the “junk” in my office reflect my life and the subjects I write about: I blog travel stories and write the occasional travel article for the local on-line paper, and both my memoir and novel are set in Italy. The new book I’m working on is partly set in Italy also.

Behind my chair is a large bookcase. It holds novels I don’t want to part with, like Memoirs of Hadrian by the marvelous Marguerite Yourcenar, guidebooks from Italy and other countries I’ve visited, histories, memoirs, museum catalogs, family photos, books written by my writer friends, and odds and ends like a bust of Dante I ran across some years ago.

The walls are covered with personal items that call to mind events from my life: A lovely watercolor of the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum by Edmonds artist Pam Harold, a poster from The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, a woodcut of a snowy scene that my husband bought from the artist in a tiny town in Japan, and a painting on parchment of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles that I bought in Addis Ababa, an icon from Bulgaria with Mary wearing red shoes, tribal art from Ghana and New Guinea and a fierce-looking puppet from Sri Lanka. I’ve vowed not to buy any more treasures, but they all serve to inspire me to pour another cup of coffee and put fingers to the keyboard.

What inspires you and where do you write?


Judith Works served as a legal adviser for the United Nations in Rome, Italy before retirement. Between regular trips abroad she now volunteers for local literary and arts organizations. Her memoir, Coins in the Fountain, describes the highs and lows of expat life during ten years in Italy. Her novel, City of Illusions, set in Rome, tells the classic tale of the Old world clashing with the New, but with a modern twist.