AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

April 22, 2012

Vancouver Writers Mixer by Melanie Sherman

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:18 am


Seriously, the thought of a professional editor looking at my writing makes my mouth go as dry as the Atacama Desert in South America, and then you could squeeze a whole tube of Burt’s Bees Pink Blossom lip balm into the cracks in my parched lips, but when I was invited to write a post on Ashedit, I rose to the challenge.  Okay, so that isn’t entirely true.  I turned her down. Then I tried to foist off other writer friends on her in an effort to remain comfortably anonymous.

As you can see, I lost the battle.  So with shaky fingers, I type this post.


My assignment was to write an article on our Vancouver Writers Mixer.  I should point out we are not talking about the exotic city located in an allied country, but the little town located in a corner of Washington State.  The Vancouver Writers Mixer was started by author, Carolyn J. Rose, after she taught a “Novel Writing Boot-Camp” class through the community education program.  When the six week class was over, we whined, sniveled, clung to her ankles as she dragged us across the dark parking lot, and told her we couldn’t live without her weekly critiques of our work.  “Start your own critique group,” she said.

We released her ankles, and asked, “How?”


Ms. Rose enlisted the aid of Cover-to-Cover Books, a local bookstore in the heart of Vancouver, and secured the first Saturday of the month, inviting writers to get together and talk, form critique groups, and eat cookies.  Ms. Rose gave a little talk on writing and the evening was so successful, it became a monthly event, with anywhere from 10 to 50 attending.

Writers arrive early to order a latte or mocha, drape a jacket over a chair in the back, to see the projector image on the wall above the bookcases, and have time to browse through the store.  Mel Sanders, the owner of Cover-to-Cover, knows many writers personally and will sometimes have a book or two set aside which may aid research for a current work-in-progress.

Saturday, our guest speaker was Carol Doane.  For the past year, she has been the general manager of a start-up community website, COUV.COM. “It is a bumpy ride,” Carol said.  “News media is changing and we don’t know where it is going.  For one hundred years, Vancouver’s newspaper, The Columbian, was our only steady source of local news.”  Portland papers and television stations may touch on Vancouver, but are not dedicated to us.  But now we have multiple online news sources, including online newspapers, online business journals, local entertainment websites and thousands of area bloggers for colorful commentary.

Carol went on to say that to write for a start-up community website, it needs to be edgy, quick, include photos, audio, video, and great writing.  Not “milquetoast” writing if you want to win page views.

The dynamic CAROL DOANE of in action

“You need to connect with your audience,” she said.  “Sometimes the connection is good, and sometimes you get comments like the one I got on an article about the proposal for new electrical transmission towers.  The commenter asked for my dismissal, and for me to apologize to the entire community.”

MEL SANDERS of Cover-to-Cover Books rescues caffeine-starved writers from computer slump. Thank you, Mel!

In Carol’s defense, I read that post and was not offended in the least, but my guess is whichever slant you give an article, the opposing side will take offense.

Today, COUV.COM is looking for local contributors.  Tomorrow, who knows?  A start-up in this arena is volatile.  But if you are thinking of submitting stories for a start-up online news site, value your work.  Ask for compensation, even if it is only a couple of tickets to the local theater, unless you merely want a byline to build your platform, that is.

“To write regularly for a start-up, you need discipline, and you need to meet deadlines.  Most of all, you need to write, write, write. But,” she warns, “my fiction writing has suffered since I’ve been putting all my energy into writing news.”

I guess that would be like a person who works in an ice cream store, who no longer has any desire for a milkshake.

Melanie Sherman has been writing for years, against her better judgement.  In 2009 she won second place in the mainstream category of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association’s Literary Contest for her historical fiction, The Pirates’ Reckoning, but only after her critique group badgered her into entering.  She is currently working on No Mans Land, another historical fiction, and Say Cheese Before You Die, a contemporary fiction outlined on her blog, “Meanderings of Melanie Sherman.”  Her dream is be able to claim fabulous trips “for research purposes” as an expense on her income tax.

"The last word" on a sweatshirt spotted at the writers mixer.




  1. Thanks, Elizabeth. It was more fun than I expected.

    Comment by Melanie Sherman — April 22, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  2. Dang, I was so nervous I said Elizabeth instead of Elaine. Geeez. You see?

    Comment by Melanie Sherman — April 22, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  3. In New Zealand right now for “research purposes” …and graduate school. Good luck with the community news.

    Comment by Carrie Bailey — April 22, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  4. Hi Carrie! Are you writing in NZ? Melanie, I thought you were kidding with that sense of humor of yours. Really, I thought you did it on purpose! Oh those pesky nerves.

    Comment by ashedit — April 22, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  5. No. Not on purpose. I hadn’t let the nerves settle before I tried to blog it.

    And Carrie, I’ve been noticing you are in NZ. Very nice.

    Comment by Melanie Sherman — April 22, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  6. I may actually have to pry myself loose from my big red chair and go to one of these writers mix meetings some evening!

    Comment by pam stanek — April 22, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

  7. Oooh -someone else with a big red chair. I’ve been in mine off and one all day. Gotta get out before the next mixer because I’m presenting.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — April 22, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  8. Hi Pam, lovely to have you on Ashedit. CAROLYN J. ROSE, what an honor to have you here! I’ve heard so much about you. Also, the cover of your earlier novel, THE HARD KARMA SHUFFLE is one of the funnest covers I’ve ever seen. Funny gal, you.

    Comment by ashedit — April 22, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  9. What a great concept — the Writer’s Mixer — and what an honor to address them! Melanie, I love your pictures, had no idea you were talented with the camera as well as the pen. Carolyn and Pam: I am off to find my own red chair, I believe it is called a bed 🙂

    Comment by Carol Doane — April 22, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  10. Only so much energy and time to go around. I decided this year to try and focus more on fiction. although that’s been derailed somewhat by various health issues. I’ve got to get back on track

    Comment by charlesgramlichCharles Gramlich — April 23, 2012 @ 5:53 am

  11. Writer’s Mixer sounds perfect in so many ways. I enjoyed reading about it, and the bookstore. Hope to make it there one day. Is this the store that had a fire? All in the past now, I hope.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 23, 2012 @ 6:10 am

  12. DSB: Yes, Cover to Cover is the bookstore that survived the smoke affects of a fire as reported here: Books’ worst enemy: FIRE. The Writer’s Mixer is an awesome event. I have never attended and not learned something I could use right away.

    Comment by Carol Doane — April 23, 2012 @ 6:53 am

  13. The mixer is a great idea. I guess I should start an Artists’ Mixer in my town.

    Comment by Nina Rochette — April 23, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  14. That’s quite an idea, Nina. Writers often need illustrators for their ideas and painters and graphic artists sometimes need words and stories. An Artists Mixer sounds like a useful get-together,

    Comment by ashedit — April 23, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  15. While I have enjoyed the mixers probably the greatest benefit was meeting Melanie and Cheryl Sears who called me to task on some of my worst habits in a critique group. Melanie, great writer that she is, pounded into my thick Teutonic skull an appreciation for dialogue while Cheryl, reinforcing Melanie, also pointed out a miscellany of writing sins of which I was guilty. I must say, however, that the corrections were applied in a most kindly manner and I feel I have improved because of it.
    Paul Ocker

    Comment by Paul Ocker — April 23, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  16. But Paul, once you realized we weren’t going to let up on you, the dialog you started adding to your book was great. Hope your bruises clear up. 🙂 Melanie

    Comment by Melanie Sherman — April 23, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  17. […] Sherman contributes a guest post, and is described thusly at its conclusion: Melanie Sherman has been writing for years, against her better judgment. In 2009 she won second […]

    Pingback by » Best author blurb ever? — April 24, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  18. Ashedit launches a literary superstar. Melanie Sherman tapped for “Best Author Blurb Ever.”

    Comment by ashedit — April 25, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  19. One needs to go to that website to see the description of it on the right hand side of the page before one is completely impressed with my bio having been placed on it. I feel right at home.

    Comment by Melanie Sherman — April 25, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: