Newsletter 2024-06

For ASJA members in
Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
June 2024

In This Issue

From the Prez, Transitions, M. Carolyn Miller, ASJA PNW President
Insight Into the Past from Personal Letters
, Randy Stapilus
A Writer’s Favorite Books
How to Vet Potential Ghostwriting Clients
, Michelle Rafter
Tech History, Bruce Miller
Member News and Announcements

The ASJA Pacific Northwest Chapter is on summer break from meetings. There will be no meetings in June and July. Meetings will resume on August 21 at 1 pm PDT and notice will be sent with the August newsletter, with a reminder a few days before the meeting.

This newsletter publishes the first day of each month except in July 2024 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


Transitions are everywhere around me these days. It is the subject of the book I’m writing and its related proposal. It is the subject of an article I pitched to my editor who surprised me by saying, “Okay.” (The content folds neatly into the proposal; it was the motivation for the “earn to learn” pitch, a formula I’ve used before.)

Even my professional life, as a writer and creative instructional designer, is micro-transitioning as I move away from the latter and more deeply and differently into the former. And finally, rumblings of transition are emerging personally as I consider where I want to live in light of my brother’s death and the loss of a family anchor here.

I am a “7” in numerology. (Numerology is the study of numbers and specifically the total of all your birthday’s numbers from a mystical—some would say occult—perspective.) As a “7,” I’m all about change and movement. You would think between that, and all the transitions I’ve had physically, intellectually, and emotionally and all the research I’ve done, I would be an old hand at it.

But I’m not. It’s still hard, and the best I can do, the best all of us can do during this crazy time of personal and social transitions, is hold on, stay present and remember what mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “Doors will appear where you didn’t even know there were doors.”

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 Randy Stapilus

Insight Into the Past from Personal Letters

 “Bear Bethy … Dear Frosty …” is a lightly edited collection of letters between Frank and Bethine Church, written from early 1941 to about six years later, when they were married. During most of that time they were widely separated geographically. (After the war, he returned to Stanford University to complete his schooling, while Bethine Clark remained in Boise until they were married.)

Frank Church became a senator from Idaho from 1957 to 1981. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was a candidate for president in 1976.

The personal letters were from before, during and after Church’s service in Asia in Army intelligence, and they offer a real insight into a lesser-known sector of America’s involvement in World War II, into society at the time and how people interacted. We’ve gotten away from writing this kind of longer, very personal letter (and reading them in places seems almost voyeuristic) but they’re worth the time on any of these levels.

I was asked by the executive director at the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University which holds the letters to help with publishing them. The book should be available (via Amazon, and I expect some locations in Idaho as well) in early July. 

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.

Randy Stapilus:

I just finished reading the memoir by Nicholas Kristof, Chasing Hope. Kristof is a columnist for the New York Times who has spent much of his career in international reporting very much at ground level, and often on such topics as starvation and genocide. The stories he tells focus on what prompted him to do this, how he works and what he found, and all of it is well worth reading. For those who don’t know, he’s a local in our region – lives on a family farm outside of Yamhill, Oregon (about four miles north of me). He is scheduled to speak at the McMinnville library (from which I borrowed this book) sometime soon, possibly in June (the date was uncertain when last I asked). 

M. Carolyn Miller:

I don’t buy a lot of books any more. But when I do, it is usually a really honest memoir or feminist finger-pointing that makes me laugh and think. This is what I love about these “top shelf” books.

I also have a “guard dog” for the prized books I do buy, found in a consignment store window for $20. Low maintenance and loves to cuddle. 

Fred Gebhart:

I’ve loved to cook since my first apartment kitchen in college. Nerdy chef Alton Brown’s mix of science, jokes, and scenery chewing in his TV show Good Eats flipped on a light bulb for me. Knowing why a recipe (or cooking technique) works is more fun than following directions. Tastes better, too.

Maxine Cass:

The year’s natural cycle pushes me forward as I engage with the vegetable garden, native plants, and forest care and restoration. I re-read the beautifully-illustrated Gardening through the Year often. For me, it combines seasonal wishful gardening and inspiration with practical how-to projects.

Michelle Rafter:

Here’s my shelf of writing books. I’ve acquired these over the course of my career and pull them out when I need a reference, or just to feel inspired. Some are relatively new or written by friends or acquaintances. Others are so old (like the Blundell book on feature writing) they’re probably out of print, which makes them even more precious. 

by Michelle Rafter

How to Vet Potential Ghostwriting Clients

Congratulations. Someone responded to your letter of introduction and wants to talk to you about ghostwriting their whitepaper, video script, business book, or motivational memoir. Or they contacted you via LinkedIn, X, or your website to ask about your availability to do the same.

But just because someone is interested in working with you doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your business, or vice versa.

Time is money, as they say. Before I agree to devote 30 minutes or an hour to a get-to-know-you call I can’t bill for, I try to make sure it’s going to be worth my time. That means prequalifying potential clients so they understand what I do and how I do it, and so I’m confident I can deliver what they want when they want it.

Read the full article here.

Michelle Rafter is a business ghostwriter and ASJA member based in Portland, Oregon. She is ASJA’s publications chair and ran the organization’s 2023 virtual annual conference.

by Bruce Miller

Tech History

Writers are not immune to the march of technology and ASJA and its members have marched along for the most part.

When the web was starting, ASJA needed a website. At that time, in 1995, I was on the Board of Directors of ASJA and was the person who started ASJA’s first website. The first site was on my personal account.

Soon it became obvious that ASJA needed its own domain. In 1996, you could not buy a domain name on the Internet. You had to take money to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) and let them register it. So that’s what I did. I took $35 cash to in Shoreline, Washington and bought for ASJA.

Before the Internet, there were other new technologies that writers needed to cash in on. In an early newsletter from the organization, the Society of Magazine Writers (SMW) announced a meeting on how to use a new technology: television. Writers’ connections to television were greater back then because New York City was the big player in television networks and publishing. An example of this is in the June 1952 SMW newsletter (done on a manual typewriter). In regard to the May 29, 1952 SMW meeting is this note: “Guests of Members: Ralph Bass brought Hal Lehman, free lance, and H. B. Clemenko, editor of T-V Guide. Helen Brattrud of Columbia Broadcasting Press Department came with Caroline Bird.”

Somewhere in the technological march manual typewriters gave way to electric typewriters.

Then websites started appearing on the Internet and a new form of distribution arose. Since the time ASJA had its first website and acquired a domain name, ASJA has incorporated technology in many ways.

In 2000, member Wayne Harris was doing the website and implemented a database backend for much of the content. Thus, ASJA had a dynamic website early on.

Before Zoom and remote video interactive meetings, ASJA jumped into nearly monthly telephone conference calls starting in about 2007 and running into 2016. One section during this lengthy period was called ShopTalk. The conference calls were live, with a host interviewing a guest, frequently an editor. The audio of the calls was then put on a server that was accessible for listening by dialing into a phone number.

In 2011 ASJA purchased a TriCaster video production machine used to stream live webcasts from the New York office. Events could be a panel discussion or a featured speaker. The first webcast using the TriCaster was on October 13, 2011 on “The Challenges of Copyright in the Internet Age”. Later that year on November 17, 2011 the webcast topic was “Search Trends: How to Find Them, What They Mean.”

Now that the Internet has taken over nearly everything, ASJA has virtual conferences, weekly video Internet chat sessions, and a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system. Our ASJA PNW chapter has monthly video meetings. Even though the Internet has been responsible for wiping out a lot of print markets, it has created new methods and possibilities. Members can now create an e-book and sell it directly from members’ websites.

And who doesn’t have email? ASJA and its members continue to march along with technology. But, technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), won’t replace quality writing ASJA members bring into new and emerging technologies. Indeed, many of the AI products will be trained on quality writing produced by ASJA members.

Seattle resident Bruce Miller went from a manual typewriter to a luggable CP/M Televideo computer, skipping the electric typewriter phase. Now he does network consulting and helps people save money through

Member News and Announcements

ASJA National News, from Michelle Rafter: Planning for the 2024 virtual conference and 2025 in-person conference is proceeding. The planning committee is working to secure a third keynote speaker for the virtual conference in September, and keynote speakers for the in-person conference next February. If anyone is interested in volunteering, the conference chair is looking for a content marketing writing track cochair to help pick the content marketing track sessions, secure those moderators and speakers and collect headshots and bios for those individuals, and make sure they know what they need to do to prep for the event. ASJA is also looking for volunteers to help with client networking events. If anyone in the PNW chapter is interested, contact me, or email the ASJA office,


EDITOR: Maxine Cass
PROOFREADERS: 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.