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Writers group mark 10th year

Local authors talk about their self-published books during a meeting of SASP.  (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Local authors talk about their self-published books during a meeting of SASP. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A collection of family photos, recipes and memories compiled by two cousins.

Memoirs by a self-described adrenaline junkie who has been a Marine, a firefighter and boxer, and is currently an expert on how NOT to build a log home. The story of a woman who gave birth to 16 children, written by her 13th child.

A book about the spirit of Satan, authored by a “man who can see what others can’t see.”

And a romance novel penned in 10 days by a retired phone company employee.

Who says print is dead? Certainly not the members of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers. At their August meeting six local authors shared about their work during an open mic forum.

According to founding member Chuck O’Connor, the group formed when he and fellow writers Elmer Freeman, Joe Meiners and Dan Vollmer met for lunch throughout a summer. They talked about writing and self-publishing and came away refreshed and encouraged. “We thought, maybe we should put a little ad in the paper and invite others to join us,” O’Connor said.

They did, and at their next lunch 13 additional writers crowded around the table. “Within a year’s time we’d grown to over 150 members,” O’Connor said. “It really sparked an interest.”

Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers meet each month at the Old Country Buffet in north Spokane. In November the group will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

At a recent meeting, Newport, Wash., poet Molly Saty stood next to a table filled with books penned by SASP members. She urged a guest to accept free copy of her collection of poems, “put parklers on my grave.”

“I’d rather spread the joy of poetry than make money.” she said.

David McChesney, president of SASP, called the meeting to order and proudly announced next month’s guest speaker. “Doug Clark will be here,” he said. “I told him we buy lunch for the speaker.”

McChesney introduced Claudine Pearson Luppi, who shared an update about her self-published family history. Luppi, a retired schoolteacher, encouraged the crowd. “Anybody can do this,” she said.

Next, former Marine Jim Bennett talked about his latest writing endeavor, “Once a Marine.” He said, “As you can see, I’m not a very big guy, but I decided early in life I wasn’t going to let my size hold me back.” He described some of the adventures included in his book. “I’ve jumped out of perfectly good planes,” he quipped.

Former SASP President Barbara Olivo Cagle excitedly reported the progress of her book, “16 X Mom,” a tribute to her 90-year-old mother. Cagle handed out bookmarks featuring the book’s title and photos of her mother. “It’s a great way to market your book,” she said. “If you’re going to self-publish, you’re going to have to be willing to work and market yourself.”

Cagle had taken copies of her book to a family reunion in San Jose. She had a book signing and reported that the Santa Clara Library purchased a copy. “I’m so excited,” she said. “I brought the check to show you!”

That enthusiasm and good news feed this group of aspiring authors. A bell is rung for those newly published, and the phrase, “When I get on ‘Oprah,’ …” is frequently heard.

Bob Manion shares those aspirations. “I started writing a few years after I retired from the phone company,” he said. Manion saw a newspaper listing for SASP and decided to attend a meeting. He stuck around. “I’ve met a lot of people. That’s the value of it – the networking with other writers.” At a recent writers convention someone told him he should try writing a romance. He did. Within 10 days the first draft of “The Treehouse” was complete. “I think we’re going to see some good stuff coming from our group,” he said.

Cagle agreed, but added, “Writing your story is just the beginning. There are so many steps out there.” She found assistance, expertise and affirmation at the monthly meetings. Guest speakers have included folks from all aspects of publishing, and the group’s membership is diverse. Writers don’t have to have a book in the works to join. Everyone from songwriters to illustrators to greeting card-writers is welcome.

“Any person that is thinking about writing needs to come to this group,” Cagle said. “They will be encouraged that they can do it!” She offers these words of advice to other hopeful authors: “If you have a thought, write it down. That thought will turn into a paragraph and after a while you’ll have a book.”

Correspondent Cindy Hval can be reached at


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