Sure, we’re worrying about financial pictures, big and small. But we’ve still got to read. Thankfully we have Susan Bono to nudge our literary instincts. For the past 15 years, Petaluma’s literary light has been championing the personal essay. Here Bono talks about what keeps her going.

“Now that we’re rounding the corner on the 15th annual personal essay contest, I’m proud to report that “Tiny Lights” is still chugging along,” says Bono. “This project has always been one of many, but lately, with children leaving the nest and parents growing as helpless as baby birds, I’ve adopted the policy, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ That’s why we’ll continue with the annual contest and online columns, our free monthly email called ‘Sparks,’ the monthly ‘Searchlights & Signal Flares’ column and the quarterly ‘Flash in the Pan’ postings,” all of which welcome submissions with open arms. Guidelines for these venues, and signups for “Sparks” are available at I also continue to collect light-related quotes for the magazine and am always on the lookout for intelligent, uplifting videos to include in ‘Sparks.'”

Adds Bono: “In 2009 I plan to ignore gloomy financial forecasts and produce two hard copy issues of the magazine, as well as improve the online offerings. My wish list includes PDF downloads of past issues, podcasts of writers reading their work, a new column by Lakin Khan highlighting resources for writers, and more. My goal, as always, is to increase readership and financial support for ‘Tiny Lights.’ In spite of ever-increasing operating costs, communities like ‘Tiny Lights’ are more important than ever. Everyone has stories to tell. We need more places to share them.”

Bono continues to accept freelance editing jobs and travel the area giving workshops on the art of personal narrative. Her private ongoing workshops in Petaluma are usually full, but writers interested in serious critique can contact