President's Message
August 2017

On the island of Kauai, roosters crow at sunrise. Then they crow all day long in their wild journeys around the island. With no predators in residence, it's a free-for-all for chickens.
We all have our own timing. In life and in writing-that second life that wakes us up to our wild selves.
Many writing teachers advise, "Throw obstacles at your characters. Then see how they react." I always had the feeling that was artificial-intercepting my poor characters' paths that way. But recently at a writing camp in Sonoma, something flipped and I started looking at the obstacles making their way into my own life. Life is filled with obstacles big and small. None of us can just sail through. And truthfully, it's the things that go wrong that are memorable. Not the perfect, flawless times.
At a lunch stop on the way to camp a handlebar-moustachioed octogenarian backed his truck into my car. "How will I react to this obstacle?" I asked myself. "What will that show about my character? How will it alter my direction?" Later, watching someone else struggling, I thought: "This is her low point! All seems lost. What will she do next?" I realized these moments are all around us and in us, and not just invented or imposed constructs for tension's sake in our stories. They rise out of life. They rise out of story.
What might happen in your stories that you weren't expecting? Are you open to finding out? Instead of leaving it up to your inner critic, give it over to your "inner chicken," as members accidentally discovered at Audrey Kalman's springtime Think Tank session on Writers Block.
Our club strives to bring in speakers and moderators who address topics of value to us wild, roaming writers. At our upcoming August 19 meeting, author Donna Levin will talk about how to hook your reader on page 1, and keep them hooked as they read on. Post-meeting, award-winning author and member Geri Spieler will lead a Think Tank session on making nonfiction stories read like fiction so that readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy. I hope to see all you chickens there! Enjoy the rest of summer!
Lisa Meltzer Penn, President, CWC SF Peninsula Branch

August 2017 Table of Contents:
  1. President's Message
  2. Membership Renewal reminder
  3. Speaker: Donna Levin "Hooked on Page One, Committed on Page 20"
  4. Think Tank: Geri Spieler - What is Creative Non-Fiction?
  5. CWC SF Peninsula Calendar
  6. Wanted: Moderator for Open Mic
  7. Member News
  8. Bill Baynes - Jack London Award
  9. Giving and Receiving Feedback the Smart Way - Nanci Woody
  10. List of Board Members
  11. Member Resources
  12. Critique Groups
  13. Submission Opportunities
  14. Member Discounts
  15. Letter from the Editor
  16. Guidelines for Submitting Articles to this Newsletter
Membership Renewal September 1st

CWC Membership is due on or before September 1, 2017. 

There are two options for payment: 
  1. Pay online using   -or-
  2. Mail your check to:
        SF/Peninsula CWC
        P.O. Box 853
        Belmont, CA 94002-0853
Renewal payments of $45 will be accepted through September 1st, 2017, any payments received after September 1st will be considered late and must inclu de a $20 reactivation fee. 
August 19, 2017

August Speaker:  Donna Levin
Hooked on Page One, Committed on Page 20  

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 hooked.

Donna Levin will talk about this so-called "narrative hook", concentrate on how important it is, and show as the book unfolds, we care about the characters because she is continually raising the stakes and increasing the pace of the action.
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, 2017. 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 .

Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
California Writers Club
Sequoia Yacht Club
441 Seaport Court
Redwood City
FREE to first-timers. $10 members. $15 nonmembers.  
$10 students with ID. 
To register with payment go to: 
Think Tank
FREE. MEMBERS ONLY. Immediately after the program, a maximum of 10 participants will get together to discuss matters pertaining to literature and writing.  August's Topic is:  What is Creative Non-fiction?  M oderated by Geri Spieler.

Creative nonfiction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, or a poem; it can be personal or not, or it can be all of these. The words "creative" and "nonfiction" describe the form. The word "creative" refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques fiction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonfiction-factually accurate prose about real people and events-in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.

CWC SF Peninsula Calendar

Wednesday,  August 16
Open Mic - Moderator David Stromm
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Open Mic at Reach & Teach
144 W. 25th Avenue, San Mateo. FREE


Saturday, August 19
Speaker - Donna Levin
Hooked on Pg 1, Committed on Pg 20
Donna will talk about the so-called "narrative hook" by not only concentrating on how important it is, but as the book unfolds, showing us how to make sure our readers care about our characters while we continually raise the stakes and increase the pace of the action.    

August 19 - Think Tank
What is Creative Non-fiction? 
Moderated by Geri Spieler 
FREE. MEMBERS ONLY. Immediately after the program, a maximum of 10 participants will get together to discuss matters pertaining to literature and writing.

Upcoming Events

September 16, 2017
Speaker- Michelle Richmond
Michelle Richmond  is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels;  her most recent,  The Marriage Pact , came out in July.

September 20, 2017
 Open Mic -  Moderator TBD
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Open Mic at  Reach & Teach 
144 W. 25th Avenue, San Mateo. FREE

Future Speakers

October 21, 2017
Speaker - Nina Amir
Nina Amir is known as the Inspiration-to-Creation Coach, because she moves her clients from ideas to realized dreams by combining their passion and purpose and helping them take inspired action.

November 18, 2017
Speaker - Iris Jamahl Dunkle
Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the 2016/2017 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County.  Her third poetry collection,  Interrupted Geographies , was published by Trio House Press in June 2017.



 The SF
 Peninsula CWC Branch meets the 3rd Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at:

441 Seaport Court
Redwood City 
$10 members. $15 nonmembers.
$10 students with ID.
Wanted: Moderator for Open Mic

Open Mic is held the third Wednesday of the month at Reach & Teach,  144 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Maurine Killough is the current Emcee and she is looking for someone to take her place. Jeannine Gerkman moderated in July and Dave Stromm will be moderating in August. 

If you are reasonably organized, able to hold a clipboard, enjoy listening to original work read by their authors, and can announce and time participants in a relaxed, cozy setting once a month; then please volunteer via email to 

Member News
James 'Jim' Hanna  has published yet another  story. This one was published July 19, 2017 in The Flagler Review. It's entitled, "I'm Going to Kick Some Ass," and is about a woman on probation for braining her boyfriend with a hammer.

Bill Baynes  and esteemed members of other branches received the Jack London Award at the California Writers Club Central Board Meeting on July 23, 2017.

Laurel Anne Hill  received an amazing Kirkus Review for her latest award-winning novel, "The Engine Woman's Light." The review even compared her ability to create cultures with that of Ursula K. Le Guin. 

Laurel, in awe of Le Guin for years, was honored and humbled by the comparison. "Ursula is so talented," Laurel said, "my work could never be as good as hers." Regardless, Laurel opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion. 

Audrey Kalman's novel  What Remains Unsaid  was published in May 2017 by Sand Hill Review Press. Both the ebook and print versions are now  available from Amazon.


Congratulations, everyone!


California Writers Club Central Board Meeting - July 23, 2017
Bill Baynes has served on the board of the SF Peninsula Branch for the last two years.  He supervises the development of an improved marketing strategy for the branch, including developing a new logo, reworking the website and brochure, and setting up outreach systems.  Bill interfaced with Barnes and Noble to set up two large-scale events at the Hillsdale store in San Mateo which allowed the SF Peninsula Branch members to sell their books and to participate in readings.  His YA baseball novel, Bunt! was published by Silverback Sages, Youngsville, New Mexico.  Bill has also written a 7,000-word novella, Mrs. Spooner's Special Day, which was published in The Long Story in March. 

We are honored to have Bill Baynes in our midst and pleased to have been able to witness his great award.  

Carole Bumpus - Central Board Rep and NorCal Chair

Your writing doesn't sit well with a reader after you've spent days, weeks, even years on the piece. A member of your writing group says, "This part of your story isn't believable." An agent asks, "Have you checked your facts? I think the Bay Bridge opened in 1936." Or, "What is it you're trying to say here?"

The worst response from a writer is a defensive one. When asking for feedback, you must be open to receive it. Thank your critics for their insight. When you've had a chance to reflect on the criticism, you may or may not find the suggestions relevant. Some ignorable criticisms I have received include, "There's enough sadness in the world. Can't you make your story happier?" or "I got so mad at your protagonist, I wanted to throw the book across the room."

Such criticisms actually make me feel good. I want my readers to have strong emotions. One of the greatest reviews I ever got is, "I locked myself in the toilet so I wouldn't be bothered. I couldn't put the book down."

The most constructive feedback is given with positive comments first, followed by a carefully worded, non-hurtful critique.  Imagine yourself on the receiving end.

Giving criticism requires thought and compassion. Receiving it requires an open mind and a thick skin. Here are a few things I've learned. 

  1. Consider carefully the source.  Not every reader wants you to succeed.
  2. Do not defend your writing or make excuses.
  3. Listen carefully with an open mind.
  4. Solicit feedback from people who are familiar with your genre.
  5. Make changes where you think the suggestions will improve your work.  Ignore the others.
  6. Pay attention to comments about historical inaccuracy.
  7. If you are criticized for grammar or spelling errors, you haven't done your job.

Finally, remember that nobody knows what needs to be said better than you and sometimes, we as writers are so familiar with our story that we fail to see the holes in it.  Be thankful when someone else sees them before you send it off for publication.

Board Members

Executive Board:
President: Lisa Meltzer Penn
Vice President: Audrey Kalman
Secretary: Jean Morrow
Treasurer: Pratibha Kelapure        
Appointed Board Positions:
Membership Chair: Margaret Nalbach 
Publicity Chair: Bill Baynes 
Newsletter Editor: Jeannine Gerkman 
SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Bardi Rosman-Koodrin 
Parliamentarian: Bette Houtchens
NorCal Representative & Volunteer Coordinator: Carole Bumpus 
Non-voting Members:
Immediate Past President: Carole Bumpus
Web Manager: Pratibha Kelapure
Hospitality Chairs: Geri Spieler and Eve Visconti
Think Tank: Geri Spieler
Assistant Newsletter Editor: Alfred Jan 
State Board Rep: OPEN

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.  

Critique Groups

SAN MATEO: Meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday each month, 10:30 a.m. to noon at t he 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.

SEQUOIA CIRCLE: Meets on the 3rd Friday of each month, 1:30 p.m to 4:00 p.m. This group focuses on Children's Picture Books, 501 Portola Road, Portola Valley. For more info, contact Jeannine Gerkman at (650) 533-0998.


Submission Opportunities

Member Discounts

  • Family Tree Magazine (for genealogical writers and researchers) has offered CWC members $3 off a one-year subscription (7 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 7 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 .
  • Writer's Digest has offered a discount to CWC members. Current online cost is $21.96 for print or digital. They offer the same options (print and digital) to CWC members for $14.95 for either one. Expiration on this agreement is 12/31/17The link:  WritersDigest. An opt-in box will appear reading "Please send me Writer's Digest's and F+W's FREE newsletter plus exclusive offers via e-mail. You'll also receive special offers from our marketing partners. You can unsubscribe from those newsletters via the newsletters themselves. We will not share your e-mail address with any third party without your consent. For more information, please read our privacy policy." Members who do not check the box to opt in, will exempt themselves from these offers and the discount would still apply.
Letter from the Editor

This month I want to talk about volunteering. The Jack London award recently given to Bill Baynes is given for
" exceptional service of our volunteers" and he has certainly filled the bill.  Our organization couldn't function without our enthusiastic, conscientious and hard-working volunteers. 

But as the saying goes: "More hands make the work light". Pick something you're good at and/or would like to learn. You don't have to expend a lot of time and/or effort. Whatever contribution you make will be appreciated.  One of our longtime volunteers, Maurine Killough, needs to step down and pass her Open Mic Moderator baton onto someone else.  Could you step up onto the Open Mic stage and moderate once a month? Or is there another position where you can make a difference?

Volunteering not only benefits the group, it benefits the volunteer. How so? 
  • Happiness (there's more happiness in giving than receiving)
  • Friendship 
  • Personal Growth
  • Business Connections
  • Networking Opportunities
  • Opportunities to Improve the Club 
Can you make it a goal to pitch in and volunteer? If so, your efforts will help us continue to be vibrant and meaningful to our members (and enrich your life). 

Jeannine Gerkman - Newsletter Editor

Guidelines for Submitting Articles to This Newsletter  
  Want to see your article or poem published here?
Keep in mind:
  • You must be a current member of the club.
  • Your article must be related to writing.
  • 350 words maximum. (Please indicate the word count at the top of the article.)
Format requirements:
  • Submit your article in a Word or .pdf file or in the body of your email.
  • Use Times Roman font, 12 point.
  • Put only one space (not two) at the end of a sentence.
  • Edit and proofread carefully before you submit. If accepted, your article will be printed as submitted.
       Send your submissions to: 
Include the words "CWC Newsletter Article"  in the subject line. Deadline is the 25th of the month. Earlier is encouraged! Thank you.
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