President's Message
March, 2018 

Begin at the Beginning
A black leather journal appeared out of nowhere with this message written in gold on the cover: "Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop."  -Lewis Carroll
I opened the cover and on the flyleaf another message read: "The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words all being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible."  -Vladimir Nabokov
Mr. Carroll and Mr. Nabokov have delivered the perfect portents to herald the upcoming literary contests at the San Mateo County Fair. There are dozens of contest categories to choose from.  And you don't have to choose only one. So begin at the beginning, feel that miraculous feeling, and when you are finished, send it off to the Fair. Ribbons and prize money await. Even if you don't win a prize, your work will be displayed prominently on the walls of the literary stage for all to enjoy. And tell your friends. Contests are open to writers anywhere in the world.
Our branch has a special relationship with the Fair. We sponsor and promote the Literary Stage, from June 9-17 this year, with many members volunteering to help run the stage, put on events, read from their work, judge contests, and more. This literary "Fair within the Fair" is, as far as we know, the first of its kind. Some other branches of the CWC are taking note and making plans to follow our model. As always, a very big thank you goes to Bardi Rosman Koodrin, who first dreamed up this idea ten years ago and has gradually grown it to what it is today. In 2017, our CWC San Francisco branch was officially sanctioned as a partner in this venture, though we've been there with Bardi all along the way.
Laurel Anne Hill, Stage Manager and Bardi's stand-in this year, will be updating us on the event schedule as we get closer. There are lots of ways to participate and get involved. Find out more below, and here: 

Lisa Meltzer Penn
President, CWC San Francisco Peninsula Branch
March 2018 Highlights:
  1. President's Message
  2. March 17, 2018 Speaker - Mike Larsen
  3. San Mateo County Fair Literary Arts
  4. Why People Hate to Write and How that Can Be Fixed
  5. NORCAL Group Meeting in Review 

Speaker: Mike Larsen
Taking the Risk Out of Writing: Dealing Yourself the Five Cards You Need for a Winning Hand
Now's the best time ever to be a writer. But you need literary and publishing goals that excite you and that you know how to achieve. 

Five hearts guarantee you a winning hand: You are the ace. Content is king. Communication is queen. Commerce is jack. The literary ecosystem is the ten.

This humor-filled talk will show you how to make your work and your career a labor of love.

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 in San Francisco.

Date: March 17, 2018 Time: 10:00 a.m.
Where: The Sequoia Yacht Club 441 Seaport Ct, Redwood City, CA 94063
CWC SF Peninsula Calendar

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
(NEW!!) Shut Up & Write
Every Tuesday morning, a group of writers meets at Penelope's Coffee and Tea in Foster City. As the name implies, we sit quietly and write. If you'd like to participate, join  Shut Up & Write Silicon Valley on Meetup to RSVP starting on March 6 (look for Shut Up & Write/CWC SF Peninsula).
Penelope's Coffee & Tea
3 Plaza View Lane, Foster City

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Open Mic at Reach & Teach,
Moderator: Pratibha Kelapure
FREE but please purchase something in the store to show our support. 


Wednesday, March 21, 2018
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
(NEW!!) Monthly Memb er-Led Community Writers Groups
San Carlos Public Library,
Red Pen Secrets: 
Editing Your Own Writing
Experienced writers know typing the final sentence is just the beginning. The next step is editing. In this workshop, two professional editors share tips that you can apply to your own writing-whether you're writing fiction, memoir, or non-fiction.
Presented by Lisa Meltzer Penn and Audrey Kalman

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Open Mic at Reach & Teach,
Moderator: Pratibha Kelapure 
FREE but please purchase something in the store to show our support. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018
Speaker: Devi Laskar
Topic: Wordplay and Forms in Poetry

MEETING WRAP-UP  February, 2018
Albert Flynn DeSilver  Topic: Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life

Poet, memoirist, and writing coach Albert Flynn DeSilver inspired us with some thoughts about writing-and life. Here's a quick summary.

Publishing is nice,  but not necessary. Claiming your identity as a writer is what matters. The power of writing lies in the ability to inhabit our own emotional truth. Story structure and narrative-that's the easy part. You can learn all that. The hard work is going deep, into the grief. Being a writer means stepping into your truth, your voice. It takes huge courage. 

Never stop patting yourself on the back-because nobody else will! It's a difficult road. We need ways to nourish ourselves. Meditation practice and free writing break down the barriers. 

The writing comes from the body. Let in the wisdom of the body. As ego-driven humans, we want to figure out what poetry means. Maybe that's the wrong question. It's simply strange and beautiful. The power of poetry is to incite awe and wonder.

We have set up an  online form  to gather your feedback on our 2018 speakers. It should take only a minute or two to fill out. If you attended the meeting, we'd appreciate your thoughts. 

Audrey Kalman 650-303-2405
Think Tank 

After our regular meeting, all those interested meet for an opportunity to discuss a different writing-related issue. The Think Tank is open to all members, guests and newcomers.  

March 17 Laurel Shimmer Genres and Sub-Genres-- Writers always ask other writers, "What is your genre?"  It's an important question in the writing community as it defines us within the writing community. However, "genre" can be complicated and not always definitive.   We'll talk about commercial fiction genres, sub-genres, and crossover/blending of genres. We'll share how we categorize commercial fiction. Identifying our genre is important for many reasons. We'll spend half of our time discussing questions such as: What is your genre/sub-genre? When do you identify your genre?; and why does genre matter? 

We are always on the lookout for Think Tank moderators. You don't have to be an expert to lead a fun and informative discussion.  Be sure to contact Geri with your questions and/or ideas at .

Geri Spieler


Sadly, there will be no anthology this year. However, all writers have the option to have their work available on the Fair website (in the Author Archive section). Also, the Fair will do a special tribute to all the winners in the Fair newsletter. 
The deadline for all literary arts entries is Monday, April 2, 11:59 pm. We encourage entrants to enter early to avoid any last minute issues that may arise. Also, please read over the contest rules as some have changed!
Along with our regular yearly contests, we have many new contests to add this year:  
Sponsored by Bardi Rosman Koodrin, author of Novelmania: My Ticket to Crazy Town
Sponsored by Audrey Kalman, author of the novel What Remains Unsaid
Sponsored by Natasha Yim, children's author and freelance writer
We encourage everyone to visit the Literary Arts website at:  and the Literary Arts contest book:

Literary Arts Judges Needed

Are you a discriminating reader? Do you have a particular genre of interest? Consider being a judge for the San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest. We are looking for judges who can be objective and can apply the judging criteria fairly. (Note that you may not judge any category that you've entered.) The contest deadline is early April so you need to be available during April for judging. Please  fill out this form   if you're interested.

Member News
Geri Spielerinvestigative reporter and journalist will discuss writing a book about Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975.  The book is now being turned into a movie, and we get to hear what this is like from the author's perspective. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  "How Did I Get Here?  My Writer's Journey from Reluctant Author to Movie Option."  

Place:   Rinconada Library, Embarcadero Room; 1213 Newell Rd; Palo Alto, CA 94303 .  This is just north of Embarcadero Road and the Palo Alto Art Center.  It's free. Plentiful parking.  Refreshments will be served.  For info, contact

Maurine Killough 's  aparagraha  poem about the Sonoma fires is on the Sonoma Museum's Fire Stories website and wall. Maurine and Daniel's beautiful Sonoma oasis "Cinque Terre" was completely destroyed.  Out of the ashes, she's written a moving poem.  Bittersweet. Our hearts go out to them and others in similar circumstances.  If you wish to help, go to  and click the donate button.

Reader s' Favorite International Awards presented James Hanna with two medals at the awards ceremony in Miami. James' book, Call Me Pomeroy, received the gold medal in the humorous fiction category.  His novel,  The Siege , won the bronze medal in the literary fiction category.
James' short story,  Tower Duty, was recently published in  Trampset.

James' short story, " The Time My Dad Chewed Out a Cop" was recently published in  Jokes Review

Jeannine Gerkman  was thrilled to read and sign her book  ' Spring'  at  Filoli Mansion and Gardens  for their Daffodil Daydreams event, Saturday February 24, 2018. 

Her book is now for sale at their Clock Tower shop.

Do you have Good News to share about your writing? Tell us all about it by sending it in to

Congratulations on your Literary Successes!


Why People Hate To Write and How That Can Be Fixed

How would you like it if people nitpicked the way you talked? I don't think you'd like it very much. You aren't expecting people to correct your grammar, your choice of words, or your sentence structure, are you? Probably not.

As a writing tutor and coach, and a writer myself, I have discovered why most people hate to write. It all starts in English class at a very early age. Teachers want to make better writers and in so doing, they stifle the very messages that people are struggling to express. Teachers don't get that it is the message that is paramount. Grammar can wait!

Writing is simply another way of talking and is deeply personal. When someone critiques our writing, they are supposed help us clarify our message.   When what we have written is examined under a grammarian's microscope, one reaction is, "Well just forget it. You're not interested in what I have to say!"

If we are writing for publication, we have copy editors to do just that - correct our grammar, spelling, punctuation, and re-work our material based on word choice if we're talking about literary style.

Constructive criticism entails examining how to get the message across better in order to bring out the best in the author's personal expression.

As a tutor, I tell my kids - talk to me on paper, tell me your story, read it out loud to see if you're saying what you really want to say, and to see if it "sounds right."

Mark Twain said, "Writing is easy. All you do is cross out the wrong words." Write your heart out. Speak freely and joyfully. Later, go back and cross out the wrong words and put in the right ones. 

By Eve Visconti


San Francisco Writer's Conference - February 15th-18th at the San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel:  Once again, the NorCal CWC headed up a booth featuring our own Club on a statewide basis. Tim Jollymore of Berkeley carried the role as volunteer coordinator and handled the needs of the staff of volunteers during the entire Conference.  He stated that the conference, was, as always, full of excitement and was well attended.  "The CWC name did get out there and the ideas and activities of the CWC were well-reinforced by our volunteer members."   He also mentioned that next year the Conference will be headed up by Laurie McLean and will be held at another (hopefully more easily accessible) location in San Francisco.
Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) - April 28-29th -  Berkeley:  Tim Jollymore has also offered to chair the coordination of volunteers for the Festival to be held in downtown Berkeley.  A call will go out for volunteers in early April.  If you can help out, don't miss the opportunity to not only meet and greet new writers, but also to sell your own books.  This is an event sponsored solely by the NorCal Group of the CWC.
NorCal Website:  We are seeking a website manager to handle the on-going events for our fourteen branches.  If anyone/member would like to volunteer their time of about 10 hours per month, we are willing to pay.  Contact Carole Bumpus at   
CWC State Board Strategic Planning Results:
Instead of the usual bi-annual CWC State Board meeting, the Board held a strategic planning session.  Kim Edwards, our NorCal liaison, compiled and presented a list to us of the CWC's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to the CWC.  After thoughtful discussion, it was decided that this list will be utilized to direct our Fall NorCal Leadership Conference on the 29th of September 2018.    Action Item: Plans for the conference will be finalized at the May 5th NorCal meeting.
Branch Round Up: 
The discussion of branch challenges, and possible topics for the Leadership Conference, included, but was not limited to:
    • Critique groups 
    • Craft support groups
    • Creative activities for chapters
    • Marketing (logo items?)
    • Obtaining members from younger groups
    • Inspiring members to take on leadership
    • Orienting new members
    • Sponsoring a high school writing contest
    • Committees for a productive chapter  
    • How to involve members with their special expertise
Each chapter gave highlights of the speakers and activities over the past year and chapters reported from one-half to two-thirds of their dues-paying members attend monthly meetings.
Action Item: Election of Officers for the NorCal Board for 2018-19 at the May 5th meeting.
Submitted by:  Carole Bumpus - NorCal Chair

Carole Bumpus
Member Resources

Check out the updated  Writers' Corner  page on the SF Peninsula CWC website, where you'll find a list of resources to help you write and get published. Listings include publications and small presses founded or edited by branch members, literary magazines where members' work is published, local writing conferences and contests, and local writing organizations. 

There is a list of branch members who provide writing-related services for a fee: editing, coaching, and more.  

Classified Ads

Help Wanted
Volunteer Web Assistant needed for CWC SF Peninsula website:
Our fabulous web manager, Pratibha Kelapure, is seeking a volunteer assistant who can handle some of our routine web updates. She will provide initial training, but this person needs to have the following skills and must be able to work independently without a lot of handholding:
  • Working knowledge of WordPress and plug-ins
  • Comfortable with basic coding using HTML/CSS
  • Respond to update requests promptly
  • Strong troubleshooting and analytical abilities
  • Attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Communication and teamwork skills
If you fit the bill and can help keep us looking good online, please contact Pratibha at

Member Discounts

Family Tree Magazine (for genealogical writers and researchers) has offered CWC members $3 off a one-year subscription (seven issues). Price would be $24 vs. the $27 "standard intro price." California Writer's Club members can receive a discounted Family Tree Magazine sub rate for seven issues for $24.00. When ordering by phone (888-403-9002) club members should mention source key: 87DCWC. Expiration on this agreement is  6/30/18.
Critique Groups

SAN MATEO: Meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday each month, 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Peninsula Regent, 1 Baldwin Avenue, San Mateo, rear of the large meeting room opposite the elevator. Bring at least 5 copies of your no-longer-than-6-page manuscript to hand out. For more info, contact Karen Hartley at or (408) 315-0271.

(NEW!!) FORMULATION OF NEW GROUPSBy popular demand, our branch is helping to facilitate the formation of critique groups, along with distributing information about best practices in running a group.

If you are a member looking to join a critique group, add to your current one, or you just want to try something new; fill out this form to get more information about upcoming events.  CWC SF Peninsula Critique Groups
If you signed up on an earlier list, please sign up again here, so we have everything together with complete information.



Executive Board:
President: Lisa Meltzer Penn
Vice President: Audrey Kalman
Secretary: Jean Morrow
Treasurer: Pratibha Kelapure        
Appointed Board Positions:
State Board & NorCal Rep & Volunteer Coordinator: Carole Bumpus
Membership Co-Chairs: Margaret Nalbach & Tim Flood
Publicity Chair: Bill Baynes 
Newsletter Editor: Jeannine Gerkman 
SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Bardi Rosman Koodrin 
Fault Zone Editor-in-C hief: Laurel Anne Hill  
Non-Voting Positions:
Immediate Past President: Carole Bumpus
Web Manager: Pratibha Kelapure
Hospitality Co-Chairs: Geri Spieler and Eve Visconti
Think Tank: Geri Spieler  
Parliamentarian: Alisha Willis

Guidelines for Submitting Articles to This Newsletter  
  Want to see your article or poem published here?
Please Note: The submission deadline has been changed to the 23rd of each month. 

Keep in Mind:
  • You must be a  current member  of the club.
  • Your article must be  related to writing.
  • Your piece shall not exceed 350 words.
Format Requirements:
  • Use Word, .pdf, or write within the body of the email.
  • One space (not two) at the end of sentences.
  • Edit and proofread carefully before sending. If accepted, your article will be printed as submitted.
       Send your submissions to:  
CWC SF Peninsula   |    Email    |    Website