Newsletter 2023-07

For ASJA members in
Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
July 2023

In This Issue

From the Prez, Writing Habits, M. Carolyn Miller, ASJA PNW President
ASJA Snack Chat: Regional Chapters, Sharon Elaine Thompson
All the News That’s Fit to Print About Print On Demand Books, Randy Stapilus
AI, Bruce Miller
Member News and Announcements

The ASJA Pacific Northwest Chapter is on summer break from meetings. There will be no meetings in July and August. Meetings will resume on September 20 at 1 pm PDT and notice will be sent with the September newsletter with a reminder a few days before the meeting.

This newsletter will continue to publish the first day of each month and welcomes article submissions and photos. Please email the ASJA PNW Newsletter Editor, Maxine Cass, at

From the President

by M. Carolyn Miller

ASJA PNW Chapter President

Writing Habits

Many years ago, when I was in charge of programs for the Colorado Authors League, I invited local author Clarissa Pinkola Estés (of Women Who Run with the Wolves fame), to speak at our monthly luncheon. Surprisingly, she agreed.

During her talk, she shared how people have this romantic notion of writers and how they spend their days. The rise. They gather their thoughts. They spend the day writing without interruptions, invariably in an idyllic setting. The reality, said Estes, is a lot different.

“You tend the baby, and write some. You do the laundry and write some more. You take care of the house, your friends, other demands, and in between those tasks, you write.”

I was reminded of this recently when I read “The Productivity Equation: Building a Writing Practice While Living with Limitations” (print only) by Esmé Weijun Wang in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers. Wang outlines the reality of writing, especially for those with physical disabilities. She also challenges author Stephen King’s words that writers must write every day.

Instead, Wang shares how to shape your writing habits to meet your goals, regardless of your abilities or the time you invest in actual writing. “[Y]ou don’t always need to increase your writing hours to be more productive,” she notes.

For one who can’t sit for more than a few hours, thanks to a hip issue, I find this perspective refreshing. It gives me permission to reframe the yoga I do after a morning writing session, or the walk I take mid-day, as valuable, for the insights and ideas they produce that further me toward my writing goal.

M. Carolyn Miller, MA, spent her career designing narrative- and game-based learning. Today, she consults and writes about narrative in our lives and world, the inextricable link between the two, and the critical role of self-awareness in transforming both.

by Sharon Elaine Thompson

ASJA Snack Chat: Regional Chapters

On Thursday, June 15, the ASJA conference presented a “snack chat,” covering ASJA chapters. A snack chat is an informal, online gathering dedicated to one topic that is meant to take the place of the in-person conference lunches. I co-hosted the chat with Spencer Boos, the membership associate at ASJA. But Rosemary Keevil, Bruce Miller and Michelle Rafter from the PNW chapter joined us. I appreciated their presence as they corrected me when I went off track and added information I forgot. Thank you all.

About 16 people attended; no one was part of an active chapter, though a couple people were from chapters that had lapsed during the pandemic. Spencer said there are several new or revitalized chapters in the offing.

Spencer opened by explaining how chapters are started; he added that ASJA hopes to soon have a friendlier way for chapters, or those who want one, to find the necessary information and connections through the “mothership” website.

I explained how our chapter was established, how our meetings run, and why our chapter seems to be successful, mentioning our members’ willingness to help out to make it successful. I also explained Zoom has been a pandemic gift, allowing us to expand our reach from Southern Oregon to southern British Columbia, Canada. I mentioned our attempt to pull together a retreat that we still hope to make work someday, and also described our informal IRL gatherings in Portland and in Bellingham.

Sallie Randolph, whose chapter also crossed the border into Canada around the Great Lakes, said they used to meet for a full Saturday each month, and that members would drive in from their various areas. She suggested that full day meetings might be used to host mini-conferences, inviting in a speaker, or perhaps playing a video of conference sessions.

A member who is a “digital nomad” asked about a chapter for those who live in other parts of the world (or the country) for part of the year. As there are a growing number of people who are “location independent” in their work and living situation, it’s an intriguing idea.

Most attendees seemed to want chapters already established. We explained that it wasn’t onerous to start a chapter and gave Carolyn Miller as an example of determination to find a group of colleagues to talk “shop” with. For writers who had limited time to pursue setting up a chapter, due to family obligations, Michelle suggested they find one other writer in their area and share the work of setting up the chapter, and that they would find the rewards well worth the effort.

Sharon Elaine Thompson writes primarily for jewelry trade, association, and hobby publications. She has also created industry-specific training material for several of the educational organizations in the jewelry trade, and ancillary material for career-oriented and social science high school textbooks for Glencoe McGraw Hill.

She has written three science-related young adult books on climate change, the La Brea Tar Pits, and cheetahs, as well as articles about zoo breeding programs.

Sharon writes women’s fiction/suspense under the name Liz Hartley and has published three novels.

Editor’s note: Participant Rosemary Keevil says, “Sharon did a fabulous job at the Snack Chat ASJA Chapter Session” and “I have to quote one of the participants: Rachel Weingarten said, ‘Everyone raves about the PNW Chapter!’” 

by Randy Stapilus

All the News That’s Fit to Print About Print On Demand Books

Good and bad news and no news yet on the subject of how much you pay for a print on demand book.

By far the largest such provider operation is Kindle Direct Publishing, a subsidiary of and successor to CreateSpace. (It is the provider of choice for many people because books printed there are offered almost automatically in the Amazon store.) 

I have been using them for about 15 years to publish more than 50 titles, and maybe the most remarkable feature about them has been that their printing and cost structure has been absolutely static throughout that time, changing not a penny. This makes many bookkeeping and other tasks much simpler for those of us producing books. 

The bad news is that this finally changed on June 20 when new prices at Kindle took effect.

What these price changes – which I assumed would mean unilateral increases – would look like wasn’t initially clear. When the numbers did emerge, the changes for many publishers will not be large at all, with some prices dropping.

What mainly happened involved significant price increases for large-sized books. Until last month, books sized with 8.5 x 11 inch pages were priced the same, per page, as books in the more standard 6 x 9 size. Now they’re more expensive, which seems reasonable. That also means that publishers selling them probably will need to raise their prices. 

Prices for the most common size (6×9) stayed nearly the same, increasing only 15 cents per book (with no change for page counts). Most publishers selling these books probably won’t need to adjust their prices. I haven’t.

Finally, books with color interiors actually dropped in cost. (Whether publishers will reflect that in their price is…uncertain.)

All this, of course, relates to Kindle/Amazon. Other large print on demand providers, such as IngramSpark, are a separate story, and mostly have kept their prices stable recently.

But keep watch. Where Amazon goes, others may follow. 

Randy Stapilus is a writer, editor and publisher who lives in Carlton, Oregon. He has been a newspaper reporter and worked in TV news. Randy has since operated Ridenbaugh Press, first in Idaho and now in Oregon. He has written more than a dozen books for his own publishing company and for others (most of those for Globe-Pequot) and a weekly newspaper column on politics and society in the Northwest.

by Bruce Miller


Lately there’s been a lot of hype about AI (Artificial Intelligence). What is AI? Will AI help writers? Will AI replace writers? Yes, and maybe.

What is AI? I queried the free version of with the following text (and queries are called “prompts”):

I need a brief, two-sentence description of AI

The response:

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and decision-making, with the goal of mimicking or surpassing human capabilities. It involves the use of algorithms and data to enable machines to analyze and interpret information, make predictions, and adapt to changing circumstances.

That pretty much sums it up. Can AI help writers? Will AI replace writers? Probably—to an extent. There are limitations on AI, and that’s where human involvement must take over. For example, the current free version of is based on architecture and training data up to September 2021, close to two years old.

How might a writer use AI? Here are a few of my own examples:

I asked to give me the code for a basic responsive web page. It gave back all basic necessary code and it worked. This request and response were not so time dependent.

I’m helping with content for a client’s website. Getting images to illustrate text has been a pain. I went to and began asking for AI-generated images. I got back usable, royalty-free images, saving a lot of time searching through stock photos. ASJA Member Damon Brown reported that he used to generate images for one of his books.

An attorney friend (who is not super tech savvy) is writing an employee manual that includes guidelines for use of personal social media accounts. I went to and presented the following prompt:

example of social media guidelines for use of PERSONAL social media in an employee manual

I got back guidelines with a seven-item list that was reasonably well-written. This was used as a way to uncover something that might have been missed. AI can be used for brainstorming and initial construction of thoughts.

What you do with AI is based on the writer’s imagination. A friend is using Google Sheets with AI to create an AI-generated cooking recipe website:

He has set up a Google Sheet with columns into which he puts various types of information and then has AI generate the recipe, the associated story, and then push it all to the website.

There is beginning to be a huge number of resources for learning about AI and is not the only AI engine. Below are a few links:

Short list of AI Engines:

Resources for learning about AI options:

Resources for buying into an AI service: Search for AI on the site; you will find plenty, including many for writing. Nearly all deals are lifetime and affordable.

Seattle resident Bruce Miller thinks AI is useful in some ways, but all ways.

Ferns along Vickery Park Forest Trail in June, Vickery (Lane) County Park, Springfield, Oregon, © Maxine Cass

Member News

and Announcements

Washington State ASJA PNW member, Sondra Forsyth, passed away in early June. She was 80.

Sondra, a ballet dancer and teacher, writer and editor, moved from New York City in spring 2019 to a house built by her son on wooded acreage on Totten Inlet of Puget Sound near Olympia, Washington.

From our chapter website:

Sondra Forsyth is an award-winning freelance writer, author, and former ballerina who lives in Olympia, Washington. She is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the health website, and a dance critic for Broadway World Dance. Forsyth has authored or co-authored 12 books and written scores of articles for major magazines. She has been on the faculty of many dance centers including the Studio de Ballet Opera in Beirut, Lebanon, and Steps on Broadway in NYC.

The Illinois Caper, by Liz Hartley (aka Sharon Elaine Thompson) was recently added to the Multnomah County (Oregon) Library’s digital catalogue as part of a contest to select books by independently published authors for the library’s collection.

Darlene West’s essay, Wonder, about dream-like images of wild animals in British Columbia, appeared in The Common, an award-winning literary journal with a focus on stories that embody a strong sense of place.

L.M. Archer wrote “Traditional method sparkling wine from untraditional regions: Washington State” for The Drinks Business in June. In May, “Oregon’s First AAPI Food & Wine Pairs Diversity and Discovery” was published in Wine Business, covering an event attended by more than 1,000 people celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander heritage. For Wine Business Monthly‘s June online edition, she produced “Natural Alternatives to Sulfur Dioxide.”

Rachel Phelps An, from Maple Valley near Kent, WA,”a modern suburban homesteading freelancer” met other PNW chapter members during the June chapter Zoom meeting.

Joanna Nesbit highly recommends ASJA member Jennifer Goforth Gregory’s book, The Freelance Content Marketing Writer: Find your perfect clients, Make tons of money and Build a business you love.


EDITOR: Maxine Cass
ASJA PNW monthly meeting coverage: Darlene West
PROOFREADER: Catherine Kolonko

*All stories are copyright by their respective writers.
*All photographs and illustrations are copyright by their creative makers.
*All rights are reserved to each of them for their own material.