President's Message
April, 2019

April Fools!
In my house, we've always celebrated the lesser holidays, especially the ones that involve the little people. Truth be told, it's not really about the holidays. It's about the wee, mischievously-inclined, folk themselves. A folder on my computer labeled "Letters from the Little People" is stuffed full of notes from the Leprechaun, Cupid, and the Tooth Fairy written when one or the other of these Littles hijacked my computer and hand-delivered the resulting notes to my children. Even though my kids are now full-fledged teenagers (and my daughter discovered the folder a few years ago-oops!) I still deny I had anything to do with those notes. If I was involved at all, I say, I was just a conduit, a channel for their words.

And isn't that kind of the creative process itself? Can we take all the credit for what we do or don't do? Are we merely tapping into a channel? Of course it's not one or the other, not either or, but the partnership between the two, the creative impulse that lead us to a river, a cascade or a cliff high above a wide-open landscape, that leads to everything outside ourselves.

This month opens with April Fool's Day, another of the lesser holidays with its own impish mascot. "The Fool" in the Tarot deck is pictured as a carefree wanderer about to walk off a cliff because he's not paying attention to his surroundings. But in the lexicon of the Tarot the fool is a powerful creative force that carries us into new territory, a symbol of adventure and possibility. This "lesser being" is actually one of the most potent cards in the deck. So, if you feel you are only at the beginning, if you don't know what to expect or where you are going, whether the " you"  shares your name, a character's name, or is a book title you've been tacking on to draft after draft of your beautiful writing, let today be a day of beginner's luck, improvisation, and belief in the power of the universe.

My own novel has been in progress for 10+ years. (And the plus sign means I stopped counting at year 10.) But I'm getting closer and closer to the edge. I'm so close I'm almost ready to take that leap of faith. So, today, Fool, I pay homage to you. Happy April Fool's Day to all!

Lisa Meltzer Penn
April 2019 Highlights: It's National Poetry Month!
  1. President's Message - Lisa Meltzer Penn
  2. CWC Literary Stage
  3. Speaker: Becky Parker Geist - Audiobook Options for Authors
  4. Think Tank: Geri Spieler - Supersleuthing: Internet Secrets
  5. March speaker highlights
  6. Member News
  7. Beta Reader Program - New!
  8. Welcome New San Mateo County Poet Laureate
  9. Get Involved
  10. Barnes & Noble Author Day
  11. Upcoming Writers Conferences

CWC Literary Stage at the 2019 SAN MATEO COUNTY FAIR: JUNE 8-16

CWC's Literary Stage
Do Your Fair Share

✔ Presenters wanted for Speaking/Workshops/Panels - Contact Laurel Anne Hill (
✔ Authors Book Donations for prizes (bring yours to the April CWC Meeting)
✔ Fair Days Volunteers for set-up/maintaining area/interacting with fairgoers, etc
✔ Writers Block Party Helpers needed for Planning/Prepping/Partying!
✔ More opportunities available for sign up at the April meeting.

Sign up to volunteer at the fair and more!

For full details visit the Literary Arts website at:

April 20, 2019 
Speaker: Becky Parker Geist
Topic: How to Bring Your Book to Life in Audio - and Make it Work for You!

Audiobooks are hot -- but can also be costly to produce. Find out what you need to know to make good decisions about audio and how to leverage an audiobook to achieve your goals. You'll learn:
  • Key considerations in audiobook decision-making
  • Production Hows: how to, how long, how much
  • Distribution: options, royalties
  • Marketing your audiobook to achieve your goals
Becky will be your tour guide in the world of audiobooks. No matter where you are in your author journey, Becky provides insights that inspire and help you see new possibilities for ways to get your writing out there to reach more of your audience and have a greater impact. Bring your writer friends so they don't miss out!
An audiobook producer and narrator with 37-plus years of experience in the audiobook industry, Becky Parker Geist is the owner of Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally for audiobook production and marketing. Becky has narrated and/or produced well over 200 titles to date.

Committed to leadership, Becky serves as President of BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) and is a member of IBPA, APA (Audio Publishers Association), and SCBWI. Becky is the author of five titles, including Audiobook Toolkit for Authors: Your Comprehensive Guide to Recording Your Own Audiobook, now available at Her passion is to help great stories come alive!

Saturday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m.
FREE  to first-time attendees! 
$10 Members; $15 Non-Members; $5 Students/ID

Think Tank

April 20, 2019  
Moderator: Geri Spieler
Presentation: Super Sleuthing: Internet Research Secrets Everyone Should Know

How do you start your research? What words do you use to find information? Do you know how to gauge when a website is genuine? In this workshop, we will introduce methods designed to equip you with the skills and tools to prepare you to find real information and be able to discern it is reliable as well as many other tips to help you do your best research.

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. 
2019 CWC SF Peninsula Calendar


Shut Up & Write
Every Tuesday in Foster City
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

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 (look for Shut Up & Write/CWC SF Peninsula).

April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2019

Writers Helping Writers

On the second and third Wednesdays of each month, we meet to learn and teach about writing, publishing, marketing, critique groups and a myriad of other useful writing-related topics. Learn from your fellow writers. Bring an open mind. FREE


2nd Wednesday in  San Mateo
Topic: Using the Story Grid to Edit Your Novel
Moderator: Melanie Shook
April 10, 2019,   7:00 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.


3rd Wednesday  in  San Carlos
Topic:  Outlining for Everyone
Moderator: Megan Flynn
April 17, 2019,  7:00 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.

Writers Helping Writers

May 8, 2019 - San Mateo
Moderator: TBD
Topic: TBD

May 15, 2019 - San Carlos
Topic: TBD
Moderator: TBD

April 20, 2019

10:00 a.m. to noon 
Speaker: Becky Parker Geist
Topic: Audiobook Options for Authors

noon to 1:00 p.m.
Think Tank Moderator: Geri Spieler
Topic: Supersleuthing: Internet Secrets Everyone Should Know

Monthly Meeting 
3rd Saturday of each month

May 18, 2019
Speaker: Carole Bumpus
Topic: Critique Groups

June 15, 2019 - NEW!
Special Meeting & Writers Block Party at the Literary Stage at the Fair!

July 13, 2019 - Summer Picnic at Twin Pines Lodge

Open Mic
4th Tuesday in San Carlos New Day! 
7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

We get together to share our original work in a warm and welcoming environment. Members and non-members are welcome. Too shy to share? Come as part of the audience. FREE 
April 23, 2019

Open Mic
4th Tuesday of each month

May 28, 2019

June 25, 2019

March Speaker Highlights
Photo by Doug Baird

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."

Did you attend the meeting?   Leave your speaker feedback here.
Member News MemberNews 

Thomas Crockett's historical novel, Thorns in a Realm of Roses, which spans the final years in Henry VIII's reign, will be published at the end of April. Peeling back layers of life at Court, it examines the hearts and minds of Henry, his often misbegotten queens, neglected daughter Mary and his many loyal, though wary, advisors as they all struggle to survive in a world embroiled in political and religious upheaval ruled by a petulant king.

James Hanna's short story, "The Sugar Shack Dress Company," appears in Red Savina Review. This story is an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, The Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown.

 Would you like to see your news published here? Send your submissions to by the 23rd of the month with the subject line "CWC Newsletter Submissions."


Will You Be A Beta Reader?
An author has worked with a critique group and rewritten his or her book, probably several times; it's been reviewed, revised and edited; after years of effort, the book is ready to be sent out to the wider world.

There is, however, one other step in the process, a last pass before submission or publication. The author can have the manuscript read by a neutral third party, the beta reader.

What is a beta reader?      
A beta reader is someone who will read a story as if he or she had picked it off a bookshelf, and who will give the author feedback accordingly. You've heard of the beta tester who puts software through its paces, looking for bugs before release. That's similar to what a beta reader does. However, the reader and the author get to decide the breadth and depth of the evaluation. Keep in mind that a beta reader is not a critique partner or editor.

A beta reader familiar with a particular genre or category, such as horror, fantasy or young adult, might choose a book in that genre, and knowledge of the conventions will help the author ensure the story is what readers of the genre expect. On the other hand, it's a wide world out there, and an author might want to test the reaction of a general reader not wedded to a specific genre. The possibilities are numerous.
Sample questions that might be asked:
  • Did the story hold your interest? Or were there parts where you got bored?
  • Were the characters sufficiently compelling? Were they properly motivated?
  • Was the point of view consistent?
  • Were there any passages you found confusing and had to reread?
  • Did you notice errors of any kind?
  • Was the conclusion satisfying? Or did you feel there were loose ends left hanging?
Be honest:
Any author who asks for a beta reading should expect an honest reaction. In fact, that's the whole point of this exercise. Compliments are great but a candid review is of greater value.

The Beta Reader Program:
Author Eligibility:  Author must be a CWC SF Peninsula member with completed book length fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry or short story collection.

Why Be a Beta Reader?
In the spirit of writers helping writers, please consider being a beta reader. Many members reading one book a year means support for many writers. And, it's not all one-sided. A thoughtful analysis of a book is a learning experience for better writing. Plus you get to be one of the first to read a brand-new book.

Lisa Meltzer Penn's book is ready and she is requesting beta readers. If literary novels with a magical realism twist are your thing, and you can read and respond to a 250 page manuscript by April 25 or so, contact Lisa for details at .
Do you have a finished book ready for beta readers? If so, sign up here.

Happy National Poetry Month - Welcome New Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, Aileen Cassinetto
Writing is hard work. Annie Dillard, one of my favorite authors, describes it more expansively: "Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair." She adds, "Write as if you were dying." And when all is written and done, the work, if it is to endure, will still need validation. One of my first open reading experiences was at CWC SF Peninsula's monthly open mic sessions hosted by Jim Hanna. This was about a decade ago, and I still have those feedback slips which I found so encouraging and constructive.
When I assumed the post of Poet Laureate of San Mateo County in January of this year, one of the first things I did was reach out to a group I knew I wanted to partner with as I go out into the community advocating for the literary arts. After exchanging a few emails with Lisa Meltzer Penn and Tim Flood, I was offered a one-year CWC honorary membership which I gratefully accepted. I met with Lisa and Sue Barizon in February to discuss the forthcoming San Mateo County Fair Literary Stage festival, and I'm happy to report that I will be participating as a Poetry Competition Judge as well as co-curating an Open Mic event!
In addition to The Literary Stage, I have recently launched my project as Poet Laureate titled "Speak Poetry" which includes year-long workshops, readings, and community outreach activities. On April 14th, for instance, I will be leading a workshop at 2pm at Half Moon Bay Library, followed by "Paw-etry" at 3:30pm, an animal-themed poetry reading and reception; and on April 27th at 2pm, I will be hosting a Poetry Concert at Burlingame Public Library featuring San Mateo County poets and the West Bay Community Band. (All these events are free and open to the public, and I hope some of you will be enticed to attend! A complete list of events can be found here .) It has been very heartening and humbling to see the amount and diversity of work that San Mateo County writers are putting out. The craft never gets easier, which is why we need our community as much as our community needs us. Thank you for the honor of making me part of the CWC. I'm eager to carry forward a grand old tradition.
Aileen Cassinetto
San Mateo County Poet Laureate

Visit for more Poet Laureate events.

Get Involved!
Would you like to spend more time with your fellow writers? We have many opportunities for you to get involved as a volunteer. We have a lot of fun and would love to have you join us!

  • Monthly Workshop leaders for Writers Helping Writers at Local Libraries
  • Marketing Assistant to help with social media, the website, or the newsletter
  • Emcees for Open Mic Night
  • Membership assistants to meet & greet attendees during the monthly meeting
  • Hospitality team members to help set up the food tables
  • Help staff the booth at the Bay Area Book Festival
  • Presenters for the Literary Stage

If you would like to participate,  sign up here .

Barnes & Noble Authors' Day

Do you have a nationally-distributed book you would like to promote? CWC SF Peninsula authors will be exhibiting their books and giving readings at Barnes & Noble Hillsdale Mall on May 19.

If you would like to join the list and help represent the club, contact Bill Baynes at by April 20.
Upcoming Writers Conferences

The 3rd Tri-Valley Writers Conference Saturday April 13, 2019
Click here to register.

Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) May 4-5, 2019, Berkeley
Get a sneak peak here. The full details (and ticket links) will be shared on BABF Website March 15.

If you choose to support our California Writers Club booth, sign up to volunteer for a couple of hours while at the Fest.  Contact Mike Verant ( for more information.

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

This is the place to find Writer's Conferences, Workshops, Volunteer Opportunities, Upcoming Events and Member Ads. 

If you would like to submit an ad related to a writing need or service, send your submission to: 

Subject line: "CWC Newsletter - Classified Ads" 

Together, we can promote our club, boost your career and get you the help you need to move forward with your writing projects. 
Critique Groups

Come to our May meeting where you will learn more about Critique Group how-to's and best practices, and have an opportunity to find your match-ups! Details in the May newsletter.

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.

Join CWC SF Peninsula

You may join as a new member any time.  Sign up here!
The dues for joining between January 1 and June 30 are $42.50. Meeting fees are $10.00 for each meeting attended . (Non-members pay $15.00 per meeting.)

If you pay by check, make it out to "CWC SF-Peninsula". Either bring your annual membership funds to the next meeting or mail them to CWC SF-Peninsula, P.O. Box 853, Belmont, CA 94002. Thank you.
If you have questions, contact Membership Chair,  Tim Flood at .

Tim Flood, Membership

Executive Board:
President: Lisa Meltzer Penn
Vice President: Audrey Kalman
Secretary: Korie Pelka
Treasurer: Jean Morrow         
Appointed Board Positions:
State Board & NorCal Rep: Carole Bumpus
Membership Co-Chair: Tim Flood
Marketing & Outreach Chair: Melanie Shook 
Newsletter Editor: Melanie Shook 
Fault Zone Editor-in-C hief: Laurel Anne Hill  
Non-Voting Positions:
Immediate Past President & Volunteer Coordinator: Carole Bumpus
Membership Co-Chair: Margaret Nalbach
Web Manager: Mindy Yang
Hospitality Co-Chairs: Geri Spieler and Carol Park 
Think Tank: Geri Spieler  
Parliamentarian: Alisha Willis
Member-at-Large: Bette Houtchens
Acting SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Sue Barizon 

Guidelines for Submitting Articles to This Newsletter  
  Want to see your article, ad or poem published here?
Submission deadline is the 23rd of the month. 

Keep in Mind:
  • You must be a  current member  of the club.
  • Your article or news must be  related to writing.
  • Your piece shall not exceed 350 words.
Format Requirements:
  • Include "CWC Newsletter submission" in subject line and add what you are submitting, i.e. Member News, Article, Critique Group, Member Resources, Think Tank, Event, Classified Ad, etc.
  • Use Word or write text 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.
  • If you have a picture to include, send it as a jpeg attachment to your email.  
       Send your submissions via email to:  
CWC SF Peninsula   |    Email    |    Website