Past Events

Speaker Publications available here.

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.

For more:

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.

For more:

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.

For more:

Howard VanEs


September 2013
Howard VanEs
Amazon Marketing Expert

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

For more:

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.

For more:

David Corbett

May 2013
David Corbett
Author of The Art of Character

Creating Memorable Characters, for Fiction, Film and TV

For more:


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.

For more:


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.

For more:

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.

For more:


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.

For more:


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.

For more:

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.

Subscribe to Author Entrepreneur Magazine, a monthly online magazine, dedicated to helping author entrepreneurs build a successful and sustainable business.

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: