Past Events


September 19

Pauline Wiles

Websites That Wow Readers: How To Create Or Update Your Online Home
~ When is the ideal time to create your author website? … and why it might be sooner than you think.
~ How technology is becoming simpler and more affordable, whether you want to build your first website, or switch your existing site to a new platform.
~ How to evaluate technology choices: an easy guide for technophobes!
~ Identifying the one clear call to action your website must deliver.
~ Trends for 2020 in website design; how to avoid a site that looks dated.
~ Smart questions to ask before you hire a website designer.

I’m an indie author with 5 (almost 6) books published. My day job is helping authors and writers create simple, stylish websites. I noticed others were often overwhelmed by this task, so I'm on a mission to dispel some of the myths around how difficult – and costly – a web project should be. My professional resume includes teaching computing to adults on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as desktop support, entrepreneurship education, and marketing analysis.

August 15

Tish Davidson

Write That Query: How to Pitch to Magazines, Agents, and Publishers

Query first. Those words bring many writers to a standstill. Writing a good query is the first step in selling your story to a magazine or your book to an agent or publisher. But what goes into a query? How long should it be? How is querying a magazine different from querying an agent or a publisher? What are the similarities between fiction and nonfiction queries? Is there ever a time when you shouldn’t query first?
Fremont resident Tish Davidson never intended to become a writer. Growing up in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, she wanted to be a polar bear. That didn’t work out, so she became a biologist. But after earning a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree from Dartmouth College, she discovered that it was more fun to write about other people’s research than work in a lab. Since then, she has written everything from restaurant reviews to biology textbooks, including 10 nonfiction books for school-age children published by Scholastic and Mason Crest, and four nonfiction books for adults published by ABC-CLIO. Her shorter work can be found in anthologies by Harlequin, Adams Media, Scribes Valley Publishing, and Medusa Press. Her book, The Vaccine Debate, has been sold in 14 countries. What You Need to Know About Diabetes was published in July, and her current project is Medical Firsts that Changed the World.
June 20
Linda C. McCabe

Using Travel to Enhance Research for Your Writing

Reading a well-crafted novel can transport you to another time and place. Getting those details correct takes effort and research. Sometimes the only way to get a true sense of place is to travel and experience it firsthand. Linda C. McCabe, author of the epic historic fantasy Quest of the Warrior Maiden will discuss how she researched her novel set in the time of Charlemagne and her trips to France. She will show slides from her trips that helped imbue her narrative with rich historical detail. 

Linda C. McCabe is the author of the award-winning novel Quest of the Warrior Maiden, and Fate of the Saracen Knight, based on the legends of Charlemagne. She received a master’s degree as an historian of science from Sonoma State University, and loves to travel. To aid in her research, she traveled to France scouring museums in Paris and trekking through medieval hilltop villages in the Midi-Pyrenees. Her novel was honored by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association’s (BAIPA) as Best Historical Fantasy and received an Honorable Mention by the Hollywood Book Festival. Her website is   

Linda generously allowed us to record her presentation on Using Travel to Enhance Research for Your Writing. Don’t miss a wealth of information on how you can take advantage of her knowledge as a trained historian to bring your historical fiction to life. Listen to June’s speaker presentation (Password is 7q@3?4?)


May 16

Dan Linehan

An Inside Look at Book Trailers and Other Multimedia

Wow, that’s a movie I can’t wait to see,” or, “Jeez, not my cup of tea.” How many times have we thought something along these lines after seeing a movie trailer? In the early 2000s, a new trend began to emerge—trailers for books. Whereas movie trailers have become finely honed tradecraft, book trailers are still at the Wild West stage. What is a book trailer compared to a video clip of an author interview or reading? What are the elements of a book trailer? How do you produce a book trailer? How can you determine its effectiveness? What are opportunities for other multimedia? These questions and more will be answered as Dan Linehan digs into the book trailer he created for his multimedia serial novel The Princess of the Bottom of the World. An online, nonfiction Multimedia Traveling Companion accompanies the series and uses a wide array of visuals and audio to ground and further enrich the reading experience. Dan will also discuss its development and implementation.

Bio: In 2000, Dan Linehan switched careers from scientific researcher and engineer to full-time writer and editor. Focusing on creativity, education, and outreach using multiplatform storytelling, he is widely published—in many forms of writing that include poetry and fiction—and has won awards for his work. Video, photography, and other visualizations often play important roles. The Princess of the Bottom of the World was inspired by these travels.

Video trailer:

Writer’s webpage:


April 18

John Byrne Barry: 

Setting That Works 

How Memorable Setting Can Advance Plot, Reveal Character, Echo Theme, and More

The most memorable setting is more than a pretty, or gritty description. It’s lean and strong because it’s working hard — doing two or more jobs. Not just showing the reader where the story is taking place, but doing its primary job of setting — immersing readers in the scene, so they can visualize it, feel it, smell it — but advancing the plot, unifying your story, revealing character, echoing theme, and setting a mood, and more.



March 2020

Getting Published!

You Can Be A Winning Writer: The 4 C’s Approach to Author Success

 Learn the 4 C’s© you can master to become a well-published author

 Joan teaches the critical steps to take to build Craft, Community, Commitment, & Confidence – a sure fire and proven approach.

 Joan’s poetry, fiction and reviews are in national and international publications.  Joan is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, Development Chair of the Women’s National Book Association and blogs regularly for the Huffington Post.
Joan’s newest collection of poetry, The Long Blue Room, is from Benicia Literary Arts, 2014. Her previous books are: A Dreamer’s Guide to Cities and Streams, San Francisco Bay Press, Here & Abroad, (winner of the 2010 Cervena Barva Fiction Award) and Seeking Center, Two Bridges Press. 


February 2020

WHAT I NEVER INTENDED TO WRITE  This workshop is an introduction to the art and fun of Flashwriting. Working from prompts, participants will create several pieces in three minutes each.  You will be surprised at the power and beauty of what you write “without thinking.”  Everyone will sharwhat they have written, I will read a few of my own short poems that I wrote “without thinking,” and we will discuss the process.

Alicia Ostriker has twice received the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry, and has been twice nominated for the National Book Award, among other honors.   As a critic she is the author of Stealing the Language: the Emergence of Women’s Poetry in America, and other books on poetry and on the Bible.  Her most recent collections of poems are Waiting for the Light and The Volcano and After: Selected and New Poems 2002-2019.  Her work has been translated into many languages including Hebrew and Arabic. She is currently the New York State Poet Laureate.

“Alicia Ostriker has become one of those brilliantly provocative and imaginatively gifted contemporaries whose iconoclastic expression, whether in prose or poetry, is essential to understanding our American selves.”  –Joyce Carol Oates


January 2020

Found Words, Found Wisdom: How Writing a Memoir Helped Me Discover That Happenstance is More Than Mere Coincidence

Memoir author Martha Clark Scala shares how she found the word happenstance, and how it continues to find her. Discover how this ten-dollar word might stir your creative juices or deepen your wisdom. The presentation Offers tools and techniques to utilize happenstance in your writing endeavors and demonstrate how ordinary activities can boost our creativity – Provide a fun learning experience that will enliven you. 


November 2019

Betsy Fasbinder From the time they go to their first writers’ conference, prospective authors learn that they need to start building their “author’s platform”. They spend all kinds of time, energy, and even money creating their websites, their social media presence, and sometimes spend thousands on a publicist to book events to increase the visibility for themselves and their books. But nobody tells us that once we build that platform, we’re going to be the ones standing on it…speaking…in public.

Book launch events, readings, panels, Facebook Live events, even TED Talks are all opportunities for writers to gain exposure for themselves, their books, and the ideas and causes that matter to them most. Skilled speaking helps authors to find readers, fans, and even super fans that help promote their books for them.

Lots of people believe that skilled public speaking is a gift that some got, and others just didn’t. In truth, the ability to speak with skill and confidence to audiences of any size requires a few simple skills, some practice, and some mental shifts that transform a “meh” talk into a dynamic, engaging, even inspirational presentation. 

In this short presentation, those who attended learned:

  1. Gather the two most powerful tips for engaging audiences
  2. Learn of the variety of kinds of speaking opportunities and why to use them
  3. Understand the value of skilled public speaking for writers, before, during, and post-publication
  4. Get a handful of mental shifts to manage nerves and approach speaking opportunities with a sense of fun instead of fear  
October 2019

Heidi Swillinger- Heidi Swillinger is a Bay Area journalist and book editor. She has worked at the San Francisco Chronicle and Central City Extra in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. She currently works at, a political news and opinion site.

Darlene Frank is a writer, editor and creativity coach who helps people turn personal stories into powerful works of art. She teaches memoir-writing workshops and provides developmental editing and copyediting services for memoir and other nonfiction. 

Audrey Kalman writes fiction with a dark edge about what goes awry when human connection is missing from our lives. Her most recent book, the short fiction collection “Tiny Shoes Dancing,” was shortlisted for the 2019 Rubery Book Award. She is the author of the novels “What Remains Unsaid“ and “Dance of Souls. “ Her story “The Bureau of Lost Earrings” was shortlisted for Pithead Chapel’s 2016 Larry Brown Short Story Award, and more than a dozen online and print journals have published her fiction and poetry. She has been a member of the SF Peninsula Branch of the California Writers Club since 2011, where she served as vice president from 2016 to 2019 and is currently branch president.

Jason Buchholz is a novelist, editor, publisher, and artist. He has worked as a travel writer and journalist; his poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Gobbledegook and Switchback. He holds a BA in psychology from UC Berkeley and an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco. His addresses have included a half-dozen locations around the San Francisco bay area—most notably his childhood home in Santa Rosa and his current home in El Cerrito, where he lives with his wife and son.

September 2019
Topic: The Art of Giving Live Readings
a change in climate—
leading us through dark of night
we follow Sunrise
Haiku poet and activist Amos White spoke at our meeting on September 21 on the art of giving public readings. It was a fantastic hour that does not easily lend itself to reduction to words on a page.
The major takeaway: use pauses. Pauses shape your words. They create the meaning of our logos, the words of our selves. Too many readers rush through their writing and obscure the periods and commas. The flat aspect obscures the beauty of the language.
He emphasized that you should treat the microphone as a friend. It is your portal to the audience. Your chance to pause, look over the audience and their reaction, and feel their emotions. It’s not only your feedback on the work you’ve done, but a guide to your future work. 
August 2019
We are all a little more adept at using Microsoft Word now that expert Hilda Sendyk schooled us in the many, many options available in the program that most of us never knew existed. Such as using navigation keys to go to the end of a line, go to the end of a document and create a “cell” in a table. Sounds like a foreign language? 
Well, that is what many of us thought at the time. However, using Hilda’s Tips and Tricks it became translated into a language we all learned. 
Being efficient at any program makes creating document a lot easier and more efficient, and understanding Word and it’s many functions allows us to focus on what we do best: Write. 
July 2019 
We held our 2019 summer picnic at Twin Pines Park in Belmont on Saturday, July 13. We enjoyed a variety of gourmet foods and listened to wonderful readings from our members. We also raffled off a variety of literary-inspired prizes, including books from some of our members.
We also officially installed our new executive board: Audrey Kalman, President; Geri Spieler, Vice President; Jean Morrow, Treasurer; and Korie Pelka, Secretary. (Photo by Jay Miller.)
It was a great day!



June 2019

On Saturday, June 15, 2019 we held our first-ever WRITERS BLOCK PARTY following our first-ever monthly meeting at the Literary Stage. The day’s festivities included:

Writer, writing coach, and teacher Jane Anne Staw exploring strategies to help writers who struggle with getting started. She emphasized the importance of carving out a regular time and space to write, even if only a few minutes, at least five days a week.


Storytelling headliners: spoken word artist and story Gary Turchin and San-Francisco-based writer Ron Jones. Gary told several stories, including a very personal one. Ron’s story “Birds,” although created years ago, continues to have great resonance in today’s world.


Storyteller and multiple Moth StorySLAM winner Jeff Hansonshared a strategy and structure for turning a personal story into a five-minute presentation to fit the Moth’s “true stories, told live” format—including using the “once upon a time… and then…” structure of fairy tales and “locating” each beat of your story in a different part of your body.

Singer, songwriter, and performer Sam Kauffman got our creative juices flowing with brainstorming synonyms and thinking about rewriting the lyrics to a favorite song.




May 2019

On May 18, 2019, longtime club member and past branch president Carole Bumpus led a session on critique groups. She laid out some of the basic approaches to providing a critique (which is different from criticism) and shared specific questions you can ask when critiquing fiction and non-fiction. 
After Carole’s presentation, attendees broke into four groups–fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and mixed–and exchanged information. A couple of groups got off the ground right away. 
If you have questions, please contact Carole. Note, please don’t contact her for information on starting/joining a group. If you’re interested in that, please come to one of our monthly meetings, where you can let others know what you’re looking for. 

April 2019

On April 20, 2019, audiobook producer Becky Parker Geist presented “How to Bring Your Book to Life in Audio.”
Geist first got involved with the audiobook industry for a more personal reason—to help her ailing 84-year-old father get his stories into the world. Now she helps other authors get their stories into the world through her production company, Pro Audio Voices. As with any project, she said, the first step is define your goal. This could include making more money, reaching a broader audience, increasing the visibility of your other books, or developing credibility.
Geist outlined two main options for creating an audiobook: going it alone or working with a producer. Whether you work with a producer or not, you’ll need a narrator. Working with a professional often makes sense than doing the narration yourself because, as Geist pointed out, “Nothing is more critical to the success of your audiobook than the narration that will bring your story to life.” You can audition narrators by having them read a short sample from your book. She recommends creating an audition script and choosing a part of the book that’s challenging in some way (complexity, dialogue, accents).
If you produce the book yourself, you’ll handle all the production and distribution. Many authors doing it on their own turn to ACX, the production side of the Audible division of Amazon. This can be helpful in some ways—such as identifying a narrator—but ACX has other drawbacks, which Geist discussed later in the presentation. A producer also can streamline the process of finding and selecting a narrator.
Once you select a narrator or decide to narrate yourself, it’s time to record. There are some very specific technical requirements for audio files, and if you don’t produce them correctly, distribution companies won’t accept them. The files you receive from the narrator should meet the tech specs and be edited to eliminate any mistakes. “It’s really important to listen to the audiobook that you’ve had recorded,” Geist said. This sounds obvious, but some authors skip this step. When you’re satisfied with the reading, the mixing process begins, which might involve adding music, sound effects, or multiple voices.
Audible is not the only game in town when it comes to distribution. Distributing through ACX can limit your royalties (if you opt for non-exclusive distribution) or your distribution options (if you choose exclusive distribution). and (which also does production) are other options. With these, you’ll earn higher royalties and gain distribution through many other channels, including to libraries, which surprisingly account for a substantial portion of audiobook distribution. Whatever platform you use, you’ll have to upload your audio files, make sure your cover image has the right specs (different from Kindle and print), and ensure that your metadata—title, author, BISAC codes, genre, book description—is all correct.
The final step, as with any kind of book, is to market it. Geist’s company developed an audiobook marketing program because she found that so many authors needed assistance in this area.

March  2019

From Reluctant Author to Movie Deal-How Did I Get Here?

On March 16, Geri Spieler, the award-winning author of Taking Aim at the President, gave attendees a behind-the-scenes look at her journey from reluctant author to recipient of a movie deal.

Based on her relationship with Sara Jane Moore, who was arrested for shooting at President Gerald Ford, Spieler accumulated 27 years worth of letters and stories from Moore. When Spieler went to see Moore in prison in 2003, Moore announced “It’s time for you to write my book.” But Moore then refused to talk to Geri-because Geri refused to talk only to the people Moore wanted her to talk to. 

Spieler then put her investigative journalism background to use as she dug into the story. She talked to an FBI agent who had been involved in Moore’s case and discovered that what the press reported about Sara Jane’s case was not actually what had happened. At that point she felt that she had to set the record straight. 

“I had no idea about how to undertake the writing process because I didn’t really want to write the book,” Spieler explained. She had to take classes in creative writing because the book was going to be creative non-fiction-a true story that reads like fiction. 

When the book was done, she decided that she wanted to publish the book with a big publishing company because she needed an organization that would stand behind the book from a legal perspective. To land a large publishing company, she’d need an agent.

It took her several tries. Her first agent shopped the manuscript around without keeping her informed, and dropped her when it didn’t sell. The next agent couldn’t represent her because “all the publishers already know the book and don’t want it.” Finally, she found an agent that sold the book to Macmillan, but that was just the beginning. She went through a long process of editing and meticulously fact checking everything in the book. 

When the book came out, Spieler decided to hire a publicist. Why? She didn’t see another book in her future. “I had a passion, I needed to set the record straight. I wanted my book to have the best chance at success.” A publicist would help her achieve that.

Four years ago, years after the book’s publication, Spieler received a note through her website asking if she still had film rights to the book. She forwarded the note to her agent, who called back 20 minutes later and said, “These guys are the real deal.” 

Now the independent writers and executive producers Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen, who wrote the movie Chappaquiddick, have completed a screenplay. Although it’s exciting to anticipate a movie being made from her book, Spieler remains realistic. “Everything could fall apart. I’m not buying my dress yet.”

February 2019

Facing the Blank Page

Writer and teacher Jane Anne Staw used her own experience as a “mightily blocked writer” to understand what other writers go through when they feel anxious about approaching the blank page, and to help them overcome their fears. For many, the fraught relationship with the page begins with an early psychological wound. For her, it was her father’s brief comment after reading her college essay. “This will never do,” he said. By the time she got to college, writing-which she had always loved-had become tremendously difficult.

Much later, after majoring in (and writing easily in) French, she began becoming unblocked when she wrote poetry. Why? Because poetry is small the stakes are lower; you aren’t expected to know the entire plot. You just take it one line, one word at a time. She began to translate this into an approach to writing, and eventually to coaching others, that involves the following things. 
  1. Think small. One word, one sentence, one paragraph.
  2. Create a regular writing time. It doesn’t matter when, but make it the same time every day. It also doesn’t have to be long. She knew someone who wrote a whole novel by writing for five minutes a day.
  3. Remember that writing is a process. You’re not responsible for every aspect of the writing every minute that you’re writing. The first time you write, you’re only responsible for getting words on the page. Editing, fixing, and refining come later.
  4. Keep the critics away from the page. When you’re writing, it should be just you and the page. Make a small emotional writing universe. Don’t allow in your father, husband, sister, or third-grade writing teacher.
  5. Create a writing savings account. When you’re struggling, it’s hard to notice what’s going well and what’s pleasurable. Take note of those things-the 15 minutes when you’re in the flow, when the right word comes instantly, when you feel great as you’re writing. Then go back to revisit those when things aren’t going so well.
  6. Think of yourself as a writer. Publishing doesn’t determine whether you’re a writer or not. As Jane Anne learned when she attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, “You’re a writer if you’re happiest when you’re writing.”
She finished by reminding everyone that a writer’s relationship with the page “should be the most exquisite relationship in your life. The blank page can become a beautiful invitation.”


January 2019

Tunneling: a Writer’s Process

Idris Anderson’s second collection of poems Doubtful Harbor was selected by Sherod Santos for the Hollis Summers Prize and was published by Ohio UP in March 2018. Her first collection of poems Mrs. Ramsa’s Knee was selected by Harold Bloom for the May Swenson Poetry Award and published by Utah State UP. She has won a Pushcart (2010), nominated by Eleanor Wilner, a Pushcart Special Mention (2012), and the New York Yeats Society Poetry Prize (2014). She was born and grew up in Charleston, SC and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area two decades ago

Highlights: Idris based her idea on something novelist Virginia Woolf referred to in her journal about the process of writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway. Idris began by admitting that a mentor once told her “You have narrative in your bones,” which meant that she found it challenging to dive into some of the poetic and storytelling techniques that rely less on narrative and more on stream-of-consciousness or sensation.
Going back to her roots in academia, Idris taught a mini-seminar on a passage from Mrs. Dalloway, inviting several audience members to read a part of the passage. She contrasted what the words seem to be saying with the sensory and associative meanings, illustrating how Woolf’s masterful point-of-view shifts allow the reader a deeper understanding of the characters. 
The audience–even those who were not Virginia Woolf fans–was left with an appreciation of the unconscious at work in a writer’s process. Looking at how a piece is put together can give us ideas and insights about how to approach our own work. 
Idris finished with a reading of one of her own poems in which she attempted to break her narrative style. 


November 2018

Self-Publishing and the Future of Writing

Presented by Michael Grumley

Writing—and publishing—are not what they were even ten years ago. The world of writing is changing rapidly for both new and established authors. No longer bound by old rules or control of giant publishing houses, writers today have new and exciting options thanks to the introduction of technology such as Amazon’s Kindle eReader. Writer Michael Grumley, who has used Amazon’s platform to publish an impressive array of books, will look at what this new world means for aspiring writers. Learn the true ins and out of self-publishing, what to do and what not to do, and why going it alone can give you a much greater edge than you ever thought.

BIO: For years, Michael Grumley dreamed of writing thrillers the way he thought they should be written—as complex, multi-genre stories with unique plots that move. Enter BREAKTHROUGH, AMID THE SHADOWS, and THROUGH THE FOG: all deeply human stories with endings you will never see coming.

Michael C. Grumley lives in Northern California with his wife and two young daughters where he works in the information technology field. He’s an avid reader, runner and most of all father. He dotes on his girls every chance he gets. His website is



October 2018

What Works and What Doesn’t for Your Writing Career

Panel: Kellie Ann Benz, Pat Obuchowski, Geri Spieler, Nanci Woody. Moderator: Audrey Kalman

A panel of published authors will discuss what works and what does not when it comes to your writing. Panelists include Kellie Ann Benz, Pat Obuchowski, Geri Spieler, and Nanci Woody. Moderator is Audrey Kalman.

The session will be followed at noon by a special Think Tank: Critique Group Matchmaking at noon. We’ll try to connect members to new critique groups to review their writings-in-process.

Note that our meeting date is a week earlier than normal.

Four authors on what works—and what doesn’t—in a writing career

In honor of California Writers Week, we are plumbing the experience of four published authors from different backgrounds and genres who have worked hard and learned along the way about what works and what doesn’t. Join us to hear from this panel about their triumphs and mistakes. Each will share their biggest “what works” moments so you can make decisions that will get you closer to your writing and publishing goals. Come with your questions for a Q&A. Note that the speaker portion of this program start 15 minutes earlier than usual, at 10:45, so we have time to hear from the panelists and get your questions answered.


Kellie Ann Benz studied Corporate Communications at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in 1991, but quickly ignored that education to write screenplays. She debuted as a writer/director with a 13-minute comedy that led to a commission by Canada’s Comedy Network. Benz has worked as a script doctor, director, and film festival jury member. Her third short earned her the 2009 Writers Guild of Canada award for best short screenplay after screenings at nearly 45 festivals, an experience that inspired her to create an online resource for short films. During all this, she found time to make her fourth short film. In 2014, Benz returned to the U.S. after living in Canada since childhood and returned to journalism as an editor. She has worked as a weekly newspaper editor for the Mercury News since March 2017. In her spare time, she has returned to writing, now as an author of steamy romance novels under a pen name. She has self-published two and is currently working on her third.

Pat Obuchowski is the founder of inVisionaria, an executive, leadership and team coaching company. She is also the creator of Gutsy Women Win (, which is dedicated to supporting and encouraging women leaders around the world. She is author of the best selling books Gutsy Women Win: How to Get Gutsy and Get Going, Gutsy Leaders: 140 Bits of Wisdom to Build Great Teams with Vision and Compassion and Success Starts Today featuring Pat and Jack Canfield. As Chief Empowerment Officer of inVisionaria, she guides clients in honing their leadership, interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills. Invoking her “unorthodox rational optimistic” style, Pat demonstrates to individuals how to realize their own unique power and bring their deepest professional and personal vision to life.

Geri Spieler is a full-time freelance writer in Silicon Valley. She creates dynamic copy in the areas of business, technology, health, and as a generalist based on her years of experience as a newspaper reporter. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Forbes and she has been a signature blogger for Huffington Post. She was a research director for Gartner Group an editor of two publications at Philips Publishing in Washington, D.C. Her book, Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford, was published by St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan. It has been optioned for a movie by independent writers and executive producers Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen. She is a regular contributor to, an investigative reporting company.

Nanci Lee Woody was a college professor, author of math and accounting textbooks, and Dean of Business at American River College before writing Tears and Trombones. Her novel won an IPPY (Independent Publishers) medal for Best Fiction in the Western Pacific Region and a 5-Star Review and medal from Readers Favorites. Nanci’s short stories and poems appear in both print anthologies and online. She wrote the book and lyrics for a musical, Hello to Life!, and produced it in collaboration with her husband, a musician. Her artwork has appeared in numerous juried shows in the Sacramento area and in the KVIE annual on-air fundraising auctions. Her photo, “Supermoon,” won the Juror’s Award in 2017 at the California State Fair in the Fine Arts Category and the Curator’s Award at the juried KVIE on-air fundraiser and auction in 2018. Find out more at

September 2018

Free Your Mind – and the Stories will Follow

Presented by Corey Rosen

Does your storytelling sometimes feel stuck? Improvisation to the rescue! Actor, writer, and visual effects producer Corey Rosen will discuss how you, as a writer, can take advantage of the techniques of applied improvisation to get past telling “the same” stories and find stories worth telling from your own life.

BIO: Corey Rosen is an actor, writer and visual effects producer who lives in San Francisco. He is a regular host of The Moth StorySlam series in the Bay Area, and his stories have been featured on The Moth Radio Hour and the Back Fence PDX: Mainstage. Corey began his career writing for Jim Henson Productions and Comedy Central in New York City. As an actor, Corey can be seen as a main stage company player at BATS Improv, where he improvises feature length plays.   His film credits (as a VFX Artist) include Iron Man, Grindhouse, Ted, and The Phantom Menace. He recently wrote the script for a ride-film at a Chinese Theme Park.

August 2018

Focus On Fault Zone

Presented by Laurel Anne Hill


Do you want to bring your stories (poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction) to the world? Our branch is gearing up to produce the next volume in our popular anthology series:  Fault Zone: Strike Slip. 

Fault Zone Editor Laurel Anne Hill introduced the theme and submission guidelines for the next issue. 



June 2018

Ten Writer Traps to Avoid

Presented by James Hanna

“James Author James Hanna presented ten trap s that writers routinely fall into. He also discussed what works and what doesn’t work in book marketing. James Hanna wandered Australia for seven years before settling on a career in criminal justice. He spent twenty years as a counselor in the Indiana Department of Correction and recently retired from the San Francisco Probation Department, where he was assigned to a domestic violence and stalking unit. Due to his criminal justice background, the criminal element figures strongly in his writing. James has had more than fifty story publications and received three Pushcart nominations. Many of his stories are included in his anthology, A Second Less Capable Head and Other Rogue Stories, recipient of a silver medal from the Independent Press Awards. James is also the author of Call Me Pomeroy, which chronicles the misadventures of a narcissistic street musician on parole (a Readers’ Favorite International gold medal winner), and The Siege, a fictional depiction of a hostage takeover in an Indiana penal facility (bronze medalist in literary fiction from Readers’ Favorite International). James is also a former fiction editor of The Sand Hill Review. Find out more at

 Here are highlights:
  1. Writers typically send out their short stories too soon. Often, they are about three drafts short of bringing their story to its fullest potential. Editors are frequently wrong. Don’t take bad advice. Call Me Pomeroy would never have become a book if I took the advice of certain editors. 
  2. The writer’s characters lack dimension. Solution: Create dichotomy in the characters. If a character has contradictions, he becomes much more interesting.
  3. The writer produces beautiful writing but the story lacks tension and goes nowhere. Solution: Make sure the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. There are exceptions to this one, of course.
  4. The writer spends too much time “stage setting” at the beginning of the story, which can cause the reader to lose interest. Solution: Start the story with some action and fill in the back-story later.
  5. The writer is married to stilted language. Solution: Tighten and simplify the language.
  6. The writer’s sentences sag because they are overloaded with clauses. Solution: Prune unnecessary clauses or break up the sentences.
  7. The writer feels he has to explain the story to the reader. Solution: Show the reader what is happening, don’t tell him.
  8. The writer uses weak verbs with lazy adverbs instead of seeking more dynamic sentences. Solution: Fewer adverbs, stronger verbs, and similes; e.g. “The soldiers were scared but stood bravely.” (Weak) “The soldiers stood like men tied to stakes.” (Better.) 
  9. The writer makes excessive use of the passive voice. Solution: Make sure the subject of a sentence is acting rather than being acted upon; e.g. “The ball was thrown by John.” (Weak.) “John threw the ball.” (Better.)
  10. The writer inadvertently mixes the verb tenses.

Jim offered these resources: 


May 2018

Inside Self-Publishing: The Good, the Bad, and How to Do it Right

Presented by Diane Holcomb

Diane HolcombBio: Diane Holcomb spent fourteen years happily reading and purchasing books as a bookseller for East West Bookshop in Mountain View, California. As a copywriter, she writes web content and marketing materials for authors and other creative types, business owners, and nonprofits. Diane blogs about the nutty stuff we do, say, and think when confronted with the stuff that drives us nutty, and also offers writing tips on her Her copywriting website is You can connect with Diane on Twitter, @dholcombwriter, and on LinkedIn.


Editing Memoir and Personal Stories

Presented by Darlene Frank

Darlene FrankWriter | Editor | Creativity Coach

Darlene had the largest attendance of any Think Tank — about 21 — as she discussed editing basics for memoirs.



April 2018

Wordplay and Forms in Poetry

Presented by Devi Laskar

Bio: Devi S. Laskar’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from such journals as The Atlanta Review, Carve, Dogwood, Fairy Tale Review and The Raleigh Review, which nominated her for Best New Poets 2016. Her second chapbook, Anastasia Maps, was published by Finishing Line Press in January 2018.  She lives in California..

March 2018

Taking the Risk Out of Writing: Dealing Yourself the Five Cards You Need for a Winning Hand

Presented by Michael Larsen

Bio: Mike Larsen is an author coach who loves helping writers. He was a literary agent for four decades and wrote How to Get a Literary Agent and coauthored Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. Mike was co-director of the 10th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference in 2017 and the 16th San Francisco Writers Conference and Master Classes, which took place in February at the Hyatt Regency.

February 2018

Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life

Presented by Albert Flynn DeSilver

Albert Flynn DeSilverThis talk is based on Albert’s brand new book for writers and born out of his popular workshops by the same name, which he has led nationally for the past several years. Writing As A Path To Awakening is a book of inspired practical creativity and spirituality. Whether you are a creative writer working on a memoir, the next great American novel, a poetry collection, a script for TV, new essays, or are simply exploring the art of journaling to reflect on your emotional life, this book offers practical insights, innovative exercises, and fun anecdotes about the joys and challenges of the writing life.

Bio: Albert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of several books of poems and the memoir Beamish Boy, which was named one of Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of 2012.” His latest book is Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer & Living an Awakened Life (Sounds True, 2017), which bestselling author Dani Shapiro has called “a gentle, lucid, erudite and compassionate guide,” and has been garnering great reviews from Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Shelf Awareness, and was recently named a “must read” by Bustle Magazine. Albert served as Marin County California’s very first Poet Laureate from 2008-2010. He has shared the stage with US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, bestselling authors’ Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many others. Albert teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen Institute, Shambhala Mountain Center, and at writing conferences nationally.

January 2018

Untangling Copyright: A Crash Course for Creators

Presented by Brianna Schofield

From the moment you put pen to paper, copyright questions loom in the background. Is your work protected by copyright? Can you incorporate other authors’ works into your own? On what terms do you want to let publishers—or others—use your work? This presentation will provide a primer on copyright, fair use, and publishing terms. You will leave armed with practical information that will empower you to make informed copyright decisions so you can focus on your writing.

Bio: Brianna Schofield is the Executive Director of Authors Alliance, a nonprofit organization representing the interests of authors who want to take advantage of the digital age to share their creations with readers, promote the ongoing progress of knowledge, and advance the public good. She is a copyright expert and the co-author of a comprehensive, illustrated handbook to evaluating whether works are in the public domain, a guide that helps authors keep their books available to be read, and a guide to understanding open access. Schofield holds a JD from UC Berkeley, School of Law.

December 2017

CWC SF Peninsula Holiday Party 2017 + Fault Zone: Uplift Anthology Launch


When: Sunday, December 3rd 2:00-5:00 pm Where: The Sequoia Yacht Club 441 Seaport Ct, Redwood City, CA 94063 What: Appetizers, Refreshments, Cash Bar Who: Free for Members. Significant others or friends welcomed.

November 2017

Answering the Call:
How Jack and Charmian Kittredge London Changed My Life and Inspired Me to Become a Writer Who Questions History

Presented by Iris Jamhal Dunkle

What does it mean to be a writer? Iris Jamahl Dunkle asked herself this at a young age and found the answer at Jack London State Historic Park. Join her as she tells the story of Jack London and his wife Charmian Kittredge London and her own journey toward finding a voice and writing back to history to find a better sense of the truth hidden beneath.

Bio: Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the 2016-2017 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County. Her second poetry collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, is about the untold history of Sonoma County, and was published in November 2015 by Word Tech Editions. Her third collection, Interrupted Geographies, will be published by Trio House Press in June 2017. Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her chapbooks, Inheritance and The Flying Trolley, were published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and 2013. Her poetry, essays, and creative non-fiction have been published widely in prestigious publications, and she is currently co-authoring a new biography of Jack London’s wife, Charmian Kittredge London. Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College and is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference. She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University.

October 2017

7 Steps to Realizing Your Dream of Authorship

Prsented by Nina Amir

Writing a book that sells can seem an arduous, overwhelming task. Getting your book published can seem more daunting. Nina Amir will show you how to stay inspired from the moment the light bulb goes on through publication and beyond. Reach your destination—successful authorship—without feeling burned out, hating the process, doubting yourself and your idea, or, worse yet, giving up.

Bio: Nina Amir is an eleven-time Amazon bestselling author of 19 titles, including Creative Visualization for Writers, How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual. As an author and high-performance coach, she helps writers achieve their potential and make a positive meaningful impact. Her clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses, and created thriving businesses around their books. She founded National Nonfiction Writing Month and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Find her at

September 2017

The Marriage Pact: How It Happened

Prsented by Michelle Richmond

New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond will read from her latest novel, The Marriage Pact, and answer questions about the book, her writing process, and the life of a writer.

Bio: Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage Pact, The Year of Fog, Golden State, and other novels and story collections. Her books have been sold in 28 languages, and her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, Playboy, The Telegraph, The Washington Post, The Sunday Mirror, and elsewhere. She has taught in the MFA programs in creative writing at The University of San Francisco, California College of the Arts, Bowling Green State University, and has served as Distinguished Visiting Writer at St. Mary’s College of Moraga and Notre Dame de Namur University. Learn more about Michelle’s books at, or find her services and classes for writers at

August 2017

Hooked on Page One, Committed on Page 20

Prsented by Donna Levin

If you write, “The fire started at midnight,” you’ve earned the reader’s attention for two or three pages. By page 20, though, you want the reader to be even more interested. Donna Levin will talk about that so-called “narrative hook” but concentrate on how important it is, as the book unfolds, to make us care about the characters while continually raising the stakes and increasing the pace of the action.

Bio: Donna Levin is the author of two novels, Extraordinary Means (William Morrow) and California Street (Simon and Schuster), as well as two books on the craft of writing, Get That Novel Started and Get That Novel Written. Her latest novel, There’s More Than One Way Home, was published by Chickadee Prince Books in May. Her papers are part of the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University and her novels are part of the “California novels” collection in the California State Library. Visit her at

June 2017

Think Tank Sampler – Writers Sharing with Writers

Prsented by CWC SF Peninsula Members (Lisa Meltzer Penn, Darlene Frank, Audrey Kalman, and Bill Baynes)

This month, we’re inviting some of our Think Tank facilitators back for a full meeting’s worth of Think Tanks. Have you wondered about these post-meeting gatherings? Missed some due to other obligations? June is your chance to sample two Think Tanks. Each facilitator will run two back-to-back sessions so you can pick a couple that interest you.

May 2017

Five Keys Elements of a Successful Memoir

Speaker: Brooke Warner

In this program, Brooke teaches what memoirists need to master in order to write a successful memoir: scenes, narration, theme, characterization, and takeaway. This talk analyzes why each of these elements is important in good storytelling and shows writers how to harness these points of craft in their own memoir..

Brooke Warner is the publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Green-light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, How to Sell Your Memoir, and the co-author of Breaking Ground on Your Memoir. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing. She is the former Executive Editor of Seal Press and currently sits on the boards of the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Bay Area Book Festival, and the National Association of Memoir Writers. She writes a monthly column for Publishers Weekly and blogs actively on Huffington Post Books and She lives and works in Berkeley, California.

April 2017

GET INSIDE YOUR READER’S BRAIN – The Neuroscience of How to Make Readers Laugh and Cry

Speaker: Ransom Stephens

In this presentation, science writer and novelist Ransom Stephens investigates how to write in ways that administer dopamine when you want readers happy and withholds it when you want readers sad. We’ll explore the roots of what people like and why bestsellers aren’t always critical favorites. Art is subjective, but our subjectivity has a lot in common. Find out more about Ransom Stephens at



March 2017

Use Your Name and Your Themes to Advance Your Writer’s Platform-Building Journey

Speaker: Teresa LeYung-Ryan

Join Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan in this interactive presentation to identify your core themes and create your writer’s platform statement BEFORE and AFTER publication – whether you are pitching to agents and publishers or choosing to self-publish – whether you write fiction or nonfiction. What is a “Platform” really? Why do you need one before pitching to agents, acquisition editors, booksellers or the media? Who can help you broadcast yours? Coach Teresa says: “Reach out, not stress out. When you make your name synonymous with themes you are passionate about, you attract attention from people who can advance your platform-building journey (before and after publication) and you gain more time to write your next project.”

Through her coaching services and her workbook, Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan teaches her clients how to identify their themes and create scripts for pitches, query letters, press releases, talking-points, one-minute videos, photo slideshows, and the all-mighty blog. She is the author of Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW. Her novel Love Made of Heart (a mother-daughter love story) is used in colleges, recommended by the California School Library Association and the California Reading Association, and is archived at the San Francisco History Center. The first monologue in her “Talking To My Dead Mom” series received an award from Redwood Writers. Coach Teresa says: “Reach out, not stress out!” Please visit and click on Coach Teresa’s Blog.

February 2017

Stoke Your Creative Fire: Three Ways to Revitalize Your Writing

Speaker: Susan Osborn

Storyteller Susan M. Osborn will talk about putting yourself in a creative state of mind, imagining and inventing new content, and experimenting with innovative forms.

Susan M. Osborn, Ph.D., M.S.W., is a writer of creative nonfiction, storyteller, and president of LifeThread Publications. She is the senior author of Assertive Training for Women, and author of The System Made Me Do It! A Life Changing Approach to Office Politics.

She has served as the editor of the Lockheed Observer and as a staff writer for Senior SpectrumHigh Technology Careers Magazine, and the Washington Women’s New Journal. Her articles have appeared in numerous business publications and her chapter demonstrating how organizations use stories to build teams was published in Wake Me When the Data’s Over. She has taught writing courses at various business organizations and universities.

Producing the Awful Bosses Coloring Book prompted her to explore creativity and conceptual blockbusting in relation to writing creative nonfiction. The result is the discovery of a treasure chest of approaches designed to liberate creative ideas.

January 2017

Author Platform, Branding, and Monetization

Speaker:  Joel Friedlander


Jan2017-Joel-2014-headshot-300xHow to use your expertise to build a valuable online asset and turn your content into an amazing variety of multimedia products using the latest technology to reach the readers just waiting to find your message.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer, blogger, and writer. He speaks regularly at industry events and is the author of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide. The blogger behind TheBookDesigner, Joel is a columnist for Publishers Weekly and was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 10 people to follow in book publishing.


December 2016

Annual Holiday Party


We’re having our annual holiday get-together on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 4, from 3-6 p.m. at the Sequoia Yacht Club, 441 Seaport Court, Redwood City. We’re planning open mic readings this year and we’re supplying the food. There will be an open bar, where you can buy drinks. Please let us know if you’re coming, how many people you’ll be bringing, and whether you want to sign up for a 3-5 minute reading. Email us at

November 2016

Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy for your Book (From Book Signings to Social Media)

Speaker:  LeeAnne Krusemark

Nov2016-Leann-Krusemark headshot

Your book is published. Now what? THE ANSWER IS MARKETING! Effective book marketing uses a variety of methods to maximize exposure and profits, and many are FREE! In this comprehensive talk, you will learn many ways to market your book, including social media, blogging, obtaining reviews, and book signings.

Bio: LeeAnne is an adjunct online Professor of Publishing for Harvard and more than 1,000 other facilities worldwide, and is a nationwide speaker on the topic. She is also a former journalist, editor, and managing editor of newspapers, as well as an author of countless magazine articles and several books on business and publishing, some of which can be found on Amazon. She has also recently authored a screenplay that Hallmark has expressed an interest in, and has also started representing other writers as an editor and agent. The inspiration she gives to others has even been compared in writing to Oprah! More at

October 2016

The Purpose of Writing

Speaker:  Kendra Lubalin

Oct2016-Kendra Lubalin headshot

What are the drives that underlie your writing, and how can you tap into them for motivation and inspiration? This interactive and experiential session uses principles of co-active coaching to connect you deeply to the purpose of your writing and shows you ways to use that connection to energize your work. You’ll leave with clear next steps toward accessing your strongest writing more easily and consistently.

Bio: Kendra Lubalin is a coach, a teacher, a writer, and a mother of two. As a coach, she can empower you to live the life you want to be living. To learn about her coaching style, or read her coaching blog, please visit . As a writer, she’s recently completed a middle-grade book about an autistic boy and a magical gnome who turns his world upside down and is currently working on a series of creative non-fiction essays about childhood, for adults. Follow her on twitter @kendralubalin to read her work.

September 2016

Making a Life with Language: Joy, Mania, and Commitment

Speaker:  Steven Nightingale


What happens when you put writing at the center of your life? For author, poet, and essayist Steven Nightingale, writing has opened doors into worlds he might otherwise never have explored. He’ll talk about how his writing has led on to other passions, and read some of his work—short pieces of mischief, lyricism, and revelry.

Bio: Steven Nightingale writes novels, sonnets, long essays, and is exploring currently a promiscuous range of projects. His interests include the medieval art of Spain and Italy, the wild country of the American West and the Caribbean, cooking for his treasured wife and daughter, astronomy, venture capital, the quantitative arts, and Emily Dickinson, whom he loves. He divides his time between Palo Alto, California, his beloved home state of Nevada, and the beautiful Albayzin, a barrio in Granada, Spain. Find out more at

August 2016

It’s All Your Fault Zone: Submission Tips for Getting Accepted to Our Branch’s Anthology

Speakers: Lisa Meltzer Penn and Audrey Kalman

LisaMeltzerPennAudreyKalmanFounding editor Lisa Meltzer Penn and former editor Audrey Kalman delve into everything you ever wanted to know about Fault Zone but were afraid to ask. Learn about the genesis of this literary anthology, the benefits and perks of submitting, and tips you can use to increase your odds of having your piece accepted — including what makes a good story. Lisa and Audrey also will cover the nuts and bolts of the schedule and the submission process. And they will share details about some exciting new opportunities available to members in the upcoming edition, Fault Zone: Uplift. Come with your questions!

July 2016

Annual CWC Picnic


June 2016

0KirstenWiess15_0344Presenter: Kirsten Weiss

Pace Like Joss Whedon!

How can you keep readers turning the page? Pacing is one of the key elements fiction writers must master and also one of the most misunderstood. In this interactive workshop, we’ll examine the pacing system described by Joss Whedon, writer and producer of Buffy the Vampire SlayerThe Avengers, and other high-octane movies and TV shows. You’ll also get a chance to practice this simple method for editing your own work and keeping readers riveted to your story.

Kirsten Weiss writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

She worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa and South-east Asia. Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking red wine. Sign up for her newsletter to get free updates on her latest work at

May 2016

170Playtime for Fiction Writers by Maureen Studer

Do you get tired of plodding through a plot when you’re writing fiction? Do you get lost slogging through a story? Ever improvised your way to an “out of the ordinary” tale? We will do that at this meeting. Together we will weave a yarn out of our collective imagination. Using a variety of improvisation and writing techniques, we will craft an outline for a short play. Then you can use these techniques to soar on your own at home or with friends. It’s better than charades at a party. Even pantsers might have fun! Along the way we will stop at the intersection of desire and obstacle, the cornerstone of conflict. We’ll see how lack of communication makes for more interesting dialogue. We’ll cover the elements of playwriting that make a play stageworthy.

Bio: Maureen Studer has spent the better part of four decades in the theatre. She’s worked as an actor, director, educator, playwright and producer, and has garnered awards in all areas. She won Best Supporting Actress for Dancing at Lughnasa at Actor’s Theatre of Santa Rosa. She’s won several playwriting awards, including “Best of Fringe” for Zero to Sixty, a play she directed at the San Francisco Fringe Festival. Maureen cofounded Petaluma Readers Theatre, which brings literature, poetry and dialogue to life through a form of animated theatrical reading. There she’s been director, actor and producer and currently acts as a consultant. She developed, founded and facilitated at Playwrights Forum for 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa. In 2012 her achievements in theatre were recognized at 6th Street Playhouse in a public presentation. She performed a selection from “Women’s Work,” her collaborative play about the contribution women made to the war effort during WWII. Maureen recently received accolades for her performance as Anne Cannon in Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson at 6th Street Playhouse. She’s been commissioned to write a one-act play for Pegasus Theatre in Sonoma County. She will wrap up her year directing Dixie Swim Club in Petaluma. And she’s soon to publish her first novel, Show Fever, a romance set in theatre.

Sam KauffmanApril 2016

Words Alive

How do you make language come to life through prose and poetry for the stage? What are writing basics and techniques for the dramatic medium? Our speaker has written, performed, and composed the music and lyrics for over 16 one-woman shows. You will learn how to bring your own stories — fact or fiction — to life through dramatic presentations in a way that connects with your audience. It’s FUN!
Bio: Singer, songwriter, actress and recording artist Sam Kauffman is known for her exceptional storytelling ability and memorable lyrics. She has developed over fifty programs that include her original music, stories, poetry, and dramas. Sam has adjudicated national and international vocal competitions for gospel musicians, performed with the San Francisco Family Theater, and produced and directed musical theater performances. She is a roster artist with the Northeast Artists Guild (NEAG). “In This Room,” the title song on her first CD, is sung all over the world as the international theme song of the Ecumenical group, Kairos Outside (a prison ministry). While Sam’s music has received national radio airplay, it is her work with churches throughout the U.S. that remains her focus. Sam has a BA in Music and English. She is the author of childrens and poetry books and her children’s book “The Story of the Little Star” is used nationally in Christmas pageants.

dot meverhoffMarch 2016

The Pitfalls and Pleasures of Translating Real Life into Fiction

Are you writing something based on real life? My novels are based on real people and real cases. We’ll talk about how to determine when reality is interesting, boring, or possibly unethical. What do you do when readers ask if your book is autobiographical? Or when everyone you know guesses correctly about the identity of one of your characters? Feel free to bring questions about your current project.
Bio: Ellen Kirschman has been a police psychologist for thirty years. After writing three non-fiction books, she began writing a mystery series. Her protagonist, psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff, is a spunky fifty-year-old who takes orders from no one, not even her chief, and persists in solving crimes when she should be counseling cops. The latest in the series, The Right Wrong Thing, was a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards and chosen as one of the best books of 2015 by

50February 2016

CWC SF Peninsula Branch 50th Anniversary Gala

Join our past branch presidents and long-time members as they celebrate the 50-year history with our club. Publisher Tory Hartmann from the Sand Hill Review Press will be our featured speaker on Writing and Publishing in the 21st Century. Be sure to be a part of a once-every-half-century celebration!

susan goldJanuary 2016

Tarot for the Writer’s Toolbox

While traditionally associated with fortune telling, tarot cards have been inspiring writers for centuries through their rich imagery and archetypal symbolism. Come and learn how you can use the tarot to help you develop character and plot, explore your personal history, and mine imagery for poetry. You will leave this presentation with practical resources and exercises to stimulate your imagination.
Bio: Susan Gold holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and is a fiction writer and poet. She has taught writing, literature, and mythology courses at the college and high school levels and for years has helped writers break through blocks and spark their imaginations in her work as a consulting hypnotist and teacher of the tarot.

karma bennettNovember 2015
Karma Bennet

Beyond Facebook: How to Make Social Media Work for You

A special workshop with Karma Bennett In this special workshop, we dig into the nitty gritty of spreading the word about your book with social media. We explore different social networks, find the right one for your book, and help you come up with a personalized plan. You’ll learn essential tools that make using social networks more efficient, as well as critical do’s and don’ts for social media etiquette.

Karma Bennett Website

adam plantigaOctober 2015
Adam Plantinga, Author

400 Things Cops Know: A Police Officer Tells What Police Work is Really Like

Real-life police work is not like what you see on TV — all too often, mystery writers get the details of how cops and criminals behave embarrassingly wrong. Adam Plantinga, author of “400 Things Cops Know” and a working sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department, spoke on the realities of day-to-day police work. From how to drive safely in a car chase, to how to tell if a suspect is carrying a weapon, to what to do if you find a severed limb in the street, Adam had invaluable information for all writers who want to put more realism in their crime writing and create realistic police characters.

400 Things Cops Know by Adam Plantinga

joahua mohrSeptember 2015
Joshua Mohr

Plarachterization: Intersection of Plot and Character

The best plots aren’t controlled by an authorial presence. Plot springs from the characters themselves. The writer masterminds all of these things, but the more we program ourselves to think of it in this way–that our protagonists are sovereign beings with independent consciousnesses from our own–the better prepared we are to traverse what I’m calling “plarachterization.” This talk will be geared around characters’ decision-making, the causality between plot points, how to keep a reader excitedly flipping pages. We’ll also delve into tactics for constructing a present action and how to fold backstory into it. Plarachterization is a strategy that will help any aspiring writer.

Joshua Mohr

Anne Germanacos


August 2015
Anne Germanacos

Fiction, poetry, novel, memoir: Demolishing categories, undermining cliché. Included a reading from Tribute (a novel in single-sentence paragraphs), a collaborative exercise, and plenty of Q&A. Reinventing language, resuscitating consciousness.

Anne Germanacos

July 18 2015

Annual CWC SF/Peninsula Branch Picnic

July 25 2015

California Writer’s Club Annual Picnic

Cathie Glenn JenningsJune 2015
Cathie Glenn Jennings

To Blog or Not to Blog: How Blogs Can Help You Write Your Next Book, Even if You Don’t Have a Blog Learn ways to use blogs to improve the research and writing of your current projects. Get to know your target readers long before publication, so you can have a built-in fan base eager to buy when your book launches.

Cathie Glenn Jennings

simon woodMay 2015
Simon Wood, author

The 21st Century Author: You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression. That’s never been truer for writers. While publishing opportunities have increased, so have the demands. Editors, agents and publishers expect writers to be born fully formed to tackle the reading public. You need to have your image, platform and social networking plan in place the second your book hits the market-and in the case of a new author, long before.

Simon Wood

nancy curtwoodMay 2015
Nancy Curteman, award-winning mystery novelist

How to Create Tension in Your Novel: We all want to write better, win awards, and be published. Write a good story, it’s said, and you’ll not only enjoy the journey, you will reap those other rewards. Stories are created with imagination, the first of two essential ingredients. They are told with craft, the other ingredient, which Curteman would argue is the more important of the two. Tension is an element of craft and likely the most difficult to handle. Curteman will make this element easier for you with her unusual and engaging presentation.

Nancy Curteman

David KulczykApril 2015
David Kulczyk, author

From insane celebrities to wacky religious cults, if it’s weird, it happens in California-and pop historian David Kulczyk has documented it in his book, California Fruits, Flakes, and Nuts: True Tales of California Crazies, Crackpots, and Creeps. These are perfect stories for anyone who loves true crime, celebrity gossip, or feeling superior to losers.

David Kulczyk

mary knippelMarch 2015
Mary Knippel, Writing Mentor

Fast, Fun and Fundamental

Change your writing, change your life in 15 minutes a day. Fun, fast and effective writing tips, techniques and strategies to connect with your most important reader.


For more about Mary Knippel



lisa and audreyFebruary 2015
Lisa Meltzer Penn and Audrey Kalman

Red Pen Secrets: No matter how great a writer you are, there’s a limit to how well you can edit your own work; at some point, you’ll need to work with an editor.

Fault Zone editors, presented a lively hands-on session to help understand the editing process.

For more about Lisa Meltzer Penn

For more about Audrey Kalman

Nick Taylor / T.T. Monday


January 2015
Nick Taylor / T.T. Monday

Another You: Working in Two Genres

Nick writes in both literary/historical fiction and crime. From a working author’s perspective, Nick discussed pseudonyms, marketing, research, work flow, and prioritization.

For more about NIck Taylor and T.T .Monday

James B. Golden, Salinas Poet Laureate


November 2014
James B. Golden, Poet Laureate of Salinas

Protest Through Poetry: A Civil Rights Journey

James read from BULL, his award winning book and talked about journalism, independent / small press publishing and being a Poet Laureate.

For more about James B. Goldman

Caroline Goodwin, poet


September 2014
Caroline GoodwinComposition by Juxtaposition

Composition by Juxtaposition

In a poem, it is often the leaps between juxtaposed images that create meaning and energy, inviting the reader into the space made on the page. Caroline is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and currently serves as the first San Mateo County Poet Laureate.

For more about Caroline Goodwin

karma bennett

Karma, a local book publicist who loves to discuss web marketing and all that social media jazz wowed us with her depth of knowledge regarding social media.

For more about Karma Bennett


Mary-Rose Hayes

June 2014
Mary-Rose Hayes
Memoir into Fiction Setting Your Characters Free

Adventurer and author, Mary-Rose showed us how to access a character by mining personal experiences and emotions from the past.

For more about Mary-Rose Hayes


D. Patrick Miller & Sari Friedman

May 2014
Fearless Books:
D. Patrick Miller & Sari Friedman
The Golden Age of Self-Publishing is NOW

Founder of Fearless Books Patrick Miller and Sr. Editor Sari Friedman reveaedl why the time is right to Self-Publish and offered invaluable tips on preparing manuscripts for publication.

For more about Fearless Books

Sheldon Siegel


April 2014
Sheldon Siegel
What Crime Novel Are You Writing?
The Differences Between Mysteries, Thrillers and Suspense

Sheldon Siegel New York Times Best-Selling Author

For more about Sheldon

Linda Watanabe McFerrin


March 2014
Linda Watanabe McFerrin
Pushing the Boundaries Fiction, Non-Fiction and the Great Beyond

Poet, travel writer, novelist and teacher, Linda regaled us with stories about her writing career and shared her views on how, over time, the non-fiction writing world managed to infuse itself with literary phrases and creative narrative to become far more enjoyable. She also offered a few tips and tricks to keep on writing.

For more about Linda

Michael Koepf


February 2014
Michael Köepf
Writing what you know
Out of the boiling pot of experience come the words that work

Michael manages as best he can to avoid the tedium of normal life by writing from the heart. A local boy; he grew up in a commercial fishing family, built his home from scratch and writes what he knows.

For more about Michael: The Fisherman’s Son, Random House

Jim Azevedo


January 2014
Jim Azevedo, Marketing Manager Smashwords

Jim regaled us with behind-the-scenes information about Smashwords and showed us a few tricks of the publishing trade. Smashwords has recently revamped its website and added features to help authors get their work published online. It has long championed self/small published authors. We were honored to have Jim show us how best to utilize Smashword’s outstanding site.

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Scott Thomas Anderson


November 2013
Scott Thomas Anderson
Penning Reality with a Pulse

Scott, an experienced literary journalist and author, discussed the difference between crime fiction and literary journalism and how to craft audacious creative nonfiction.

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Camille Minichino


October 2013
Camille Minichino
Memoir or Novel? Is there a difference?

Camille spoke about how the techniques of fiction writing are transferrable to essays, memoirs, and nonfiction books of all kinds. She shared with us some techniques which have worked for her during her prolific writing career.

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Howard VanEs


September 2013
Howard VanEs
Amazon Marketing Expert

Explained how to get a share of the exploding eBook market.

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Victoria Zackheim


August 2013
Victoria Zackheim
Author of Exit Laughing
How  Humor Takes the Sting out of Death

Noted author and teacher told us about the Acorn Workshop and how to mold a simple idea into an intriguing story.

For more about Victoria:

Meg WAite Clayton


June 2013
Meg Waite Clayton
Author of The Wednesday Sisters

Getting to Yes, Polish, PItch, Repeat

Meg shared her secrets about getting a manuscript of any sort to print. She included many stories of her own and how she acquired her hard earned, first-hand knowledge of how to get an agent and how to get published.

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David Corbett

May 2013
David Corbett
Author of The Art of Character

Creating Memorable Characters, for Fiction, Film and TV

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Susan Sachs Lipman

April 2013
Susan Sachs Lipman
Author of Fed up with Frenzy

The Book’s Done, But You’re Not:
Marketing and Promotion for Authors

Susan discussed establishing a platform, writing and pitching releases, blogging, social media, interviews, approaching booksellers, and creating events.

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Simon Wood


March 2013
Simon Wood: Author of Mystery and Suspense Writer

Simon shared with us his technique for building suspense and how to create a unique and genuinely original plot, twist by twist.

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Priscilla Royal


February 2013
Priscilla Royal: Author of Medieval Mysteries

Priscilla shared with us her methods of research and how she gets the details just right.

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Cara Black


January 2013
Cara Black: Author of bestselling and award nominated Aimée Leduc Investigation series

Cara discussed research techniques that she uses to produce her mystery novels set in the 1990’s in Paris.

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TAnya Egan GibsonNovember 2012
Tanya Egan Gibson: Author, Editor, Writing Coach

Tanya discussed how she used her research to not only enrich her scenes, but to inspire the events, dialogue and subplots in her novels.

She taught us some tricks on how to make a world exciting, and and how to use objects belonging to that world to strengthen both plot and characterization.

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Lynn Stegner


October 2012
Lynn Stegner, Author and Educator




Peg Alford PursellSeptember 2012
Peg Alford Pursell Writer, Editor and Educator

Peg spoke about the art of writing Flash Fiction.



Beth Barany


August 2012
Beth Barany; Creative Consultant for Writers
10 Tips to Jumpstart Your Creativity

Writing is much like exercise: the more we write, the better a writer we become. Beth shared much more than her 10 tips and got us all enthused about the writing process. She offered practical advice to keep our creative juices flowing and gave us exercises to help generate new ideas for every stage of the writing process.

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children's books


June 2012
Anyone Can Write a Kid’s Book and Other Myths
A panel of children’s book writers

Anyone can write a kids’ book, right? Cynthia Chin-Lee, author of six children’s books, lead a panel of children’s book writers, including SuAnn and Kevin Kiser and Debbie Duncan, and let us know just how difficult and yet rewarding it is.

Debbie Duncan

Fred Setterberg, author

May 2012
Weaving fiction into a memoir

Fred Setterberg, author of Lunch Bucket Paradise discussed the personal path he has taken to become a writer of a fictional memoir and why. He read snippets of his work and discussed the how, when, and why one should cling to the facts but allow yourself to invent in some instances.

Debbie Duncan

Debbie Duncan
Self published Author

April 2012
So you want to publish an eBook?

Debbie Duncan recounted her brave exploits navigating the dangerous arena of self-publishing her first ebook. She gave us a wealth of nuts and bolts information and covered everything from formatting an ebook to dealing with copyright issues.

Nora Profit

Nora Profit
Of The Writing Loft

March 2012
The Art of Emotioneering

Nora Profit of the Writing Loft spoke about how a writer shoud strive to make an emotional impact in every paragraph. And about how readers hear the words in their heads so writers should make their work rhythmic and interesting to listen to. It was a great session. There will be anupcoming boot camp with Nora in June.

Albert De Silver Coaching and Mentoring Services

Visit The Writing Loft to learn more about Nora Profit and her creative writing workshops. Nora is also the author of 10 Glaring Mistakes Amateur Writers Make and How to Avoid Them.

Albert Flynn DeSilver

Albert Flynn DeSilver
makes the CWC an offer!

February 2012
The Great Completion: Getting the Book Done

Albert Flynn DeSilver, former Poet Laureate of Marin, spoke about the difficulties he has faced in his past and how they influenced his work and fueled his desire to produce and share. His new memoir titled, “Beamish Boy: A Memoir of Recovery & Awakening” is due out this May.

Albert De Silver Coaching and Mentoring Services

20% off Mentoring Services!
For a limited time, Albert is generously offering his services as Coach and Mentor for 20% off to Members of the CWC sf/peninsula branch. Download a pdf for more information. Visit his website.

ezra berany

January 2012
How to Go From Unknown to Bestseller

Ezra Barany used his experience in promoting his own book, the Torah Codes to illustrate his points. He advocated carefully choosing a title by using words which are of particular interest to internet search engines. He also suggested paying special attention to the first sentence, first paragraph and first chapter of one’s book. He spoke of the importance of how to make a book easy to read. He also suggested making a book trailer (short video) for Youtube.

For more about Ezrah Barany: