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Summary of July 24, 2021 Meeting with Mary St. John – Putnam


Mary St. John – Putnam with husband David Putnam
July 24, 2021


“Don’t do it if it isn’t fun.” What sounded like a throw-away comment stuck with me. It was about deciding where to spend your online marketing time and energy. The more I thought about it, the more brilliant it seemed. That and more in this summary of our July Guild meeting, below >>>>>


But first, dear reader, the inevitable housekeeping:


Straitjackets Magazine

Cheryl McGuire, Editor of Straitjackets Magazine, and her team of editors announced they’re working hard on the upcoming issue. If you’ve never checked out this beautiful literary publication, here’s the current issue. Click on the cover to see the table of contents. As always, thanks to the editorial team for putting together such a lovely creative work. Straitjackets Magazine is published three times each year. For more information on submitting your works, see the magazine.







Michelle Bassett, the Guild’s Vice President for Membership (and the host of today’s meeting in the absence of President Jim Hitt), told us there are now sixty-three paid members in the Guild. While membership isn’t a requirement for attending meetings, it helps us keep the lights on. For twenty dollars per calendar year, you’ll receive these benefits among others:

  • eligibility to submit your writing for consideration to Straitjackets Magazine.
  • Have your book(s) listed on our Member Books Page, with links to the purchase location.
  • Enjoy a 10% discount off the list price of new books at Cameron Books in Hemet, California.
  • Eligibility to vote for and hold board positions.
  • Know that you are supporting one of the few local writers’ groups in the area

Two Ways to Join:

  • Using PayPal (click on the Home tab at the top of this page, and find the Buy Now button on the left margin), or
  • Send your check to PO Box 1154, Hemet CA 92546.



Writer’s Corner – “Writing Effective Fight Scenes” (It’s not about the moves).

Sandy Schuster, immediate past Vice President of the Guild, always brings such good information on the craft of writing. Her research and interests are wide-ranging, and every month’s tip is a goldmine. Here’s this month’s: When writing a fight scene (regardless of genre, time period, nature of combatants, etc.), if you’re only describing the fighting techniques, you’re going about it wrong. Fight scenes are a critical opportunity to give the reader a glimpse into the character’s essence. Here’s an excerpt from Sandy’s presentation:

Use the fight scene to reveal necessary information about characters that can give the reader a glimpse into the character’s soul and not just show off their fighting skills.

Good fight scenes improve characterization:

    • Why does the character make the choices that they make in the fight?
    • How does each choice reinforce their characterizations?
    • How does each choice impact their internal and/or external goals?
    • Is this conflict getting the character closer or further away from their goals? How?
    • What are the stakes for each character? What do they stand to win? What will they lose?
    • What type of fighter is the character? What are their physical or mental abilities? Not all are trained assassins so (describe accordingly).


This Month’s Speaker:

Mary St. John – Putnam on Outside-the-Box Marketing


Mary Putnam July 2021

When her author husband, David, needed a cover for his novel, Mary graffitied their house and took the picture.

Okay, they were planning to paint it anyway, but you get the idea. Mary St. John – Putnam, our July speaker, is creative and fun and brave. Previously employed by NASA, JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories), and Amazon, she’s also seriously smart.

Mary led off with Dave’s three tips of marketing:

      1. You can’t do everything
  1. Pick what you’re good at
  2. Remember it’s supposed to be fun

She told us the difference between inbound marketing (when people find you) and outbound marketing (you reaching out, as with email, social media posts, ads, etc.) The former is passive; you want more inbound because it’s easier, freeing you up to do more writing.

Mary says Goodreads is the number one social media site for authors if you’re only doing one. Be sure to populate your author page on Goodreads. (I was surprised to learn that authors can blog on Goodreads; I plan to start doing that, just to generate eyeball. – Lynne) Facebook would be number two. Other social media are fine; anything works if you work it, but see Dave’s tips, above.

Having a website is critical, but if you have a Facebook business page (what used to be called a Fan Page), you can get a URL (like http://www.LynneSpreen.com) from GoDaddy or another registrar, and have visitors to that URL taken directly to your Facebook page. Did you know that? I didn’t!

Always have a series of short synopses ready to send out (50 / 100 / 150 word versions) as well as a good headshot and a bio. 

Think about how you present yourself online. Use the same headshot everywhere so people instantly recognize you. And how do you look on Zoom? Find a spot in your house where the light is flattering and do all your online meetings there. 

Mary is creative when inventing bookmarks and other media to hand out at in-person events…or, if the opportunity arises and you won’t look like a stalker, in public places. She uses VistaPrint.com for some projects.

Guild member Bonnie Dillabough also recommended creating a QR code on your media items like bookmarks. (She uses this service.) When Bonnie greets potential readers in person and hands them a bookmark, she has seen them scan the code right then and there, buying the book on the spot. If you do this, keep that scenario in mind when deciding which URL to link to the code. I recommend the URL to your author page on Amazon, or a specific buy page, not your website or social media. 

This is just a speck of what Mary covered. For more, here is a link to her 4-page outline (which includes all her contact information). To view the entire program on YouTube, please click below.




For more about the Guild, including frequent tips and interactions with fellow writers, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/diamondvalleywritersguild/


This blog post was prepared by Lynne Spreen, author and one of a team who founded the DVWG. Lynne writes women’s fiction with positive aging and romantic themes. You may access her website here and her books here.


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