President's Message
December, 2017

Recently, I attended a party at Chabot Space & Science Center. Toward the end of the evening, we were invited out to the domed observatory building taken up almost entirely by an enormous telescope. A steep, narrow ladder staircase led to a short catwalk where, one by one, we climbed up to look through the lens and out to a vista of stars in a far-flung galaxy.

The resident astronomist imparted, "This is what the galaxy looked like when Neandrathals looked up at the skies. It took all that time for the light to reach our eyes."

So, we were time traveling, were we? Earlier in the year I spit into a test tube for a 23 & Me DNA test. Among other things, my spit revealed I am slightly less than 4%   Neanderthal. It turns out every Homo Sapien, including my family, including you, has a small percentage of ancient Neanderthal DNA as part of our make-up.

I looked through the lens for my requisite minute, conscious of the line behind me. The stars themselves appeared ordinary to my eye. I imagined the Neanderthals looking up, waiting for that light to arrive. And now that tiny part of me that was connected with them was finally getting to see it, all those millennium  later. The stars were far away, but I've never felt so close to my Neanderthal self.

We are all connected in more ways than we know. Our memories and sensory data are stored in us in ways we can't understand. We don't know what we will unearth when we begin to put our ideas on paper, what we will draw into our work. Some people talk of a collective consciousness, a river of memory and information we all share. When we write, those various things coalesce into a new thing, a combination of DNA heretofore unimagined, but always tracing the light of who we were and where we have been. We don't always know from where our inspiration arises. We don't always know what it will become or how we might collaborate to make something new. That is the beauty of writing and creating, isn't it? Stories and poems coalescing around images, wisps of memory, themes, ideas, even DNA.

Case in point: Our newest Fault Zone Anthology: Uplift, number seven in a series produced by our club. This pass, Laurel Anne Hill, Editor-in-Chief, tossed out the theme "Uplift" to be interpreted at will, and netted a volume's worth of stories and poems-all different, from many sources, places, and times, and connected in often-unexpected ways.

The new volume launches this week at our Holiday Party the afternoon of Sunday, December 3rd, with member and non-member contest winners announced, and prize winners entertaining us with readings from their work. The anthology will be for sale and signing, and published members are encouraged to bring their own books to sell as well.

If you haven't yet RSVP'd, do it today, in this present time, under this bright sky: Also, if you can spare an hour or so to help collaborate with set-up or clean-up, we could use more hands. It all becomes part of the party. Contact Alisha Willis at: and put "CWC Holiday Party" in the subject line.

Let's keep reaching up for the stars, celebrate another year of writing and writing community, and welcome the one to come.
Lisa Meltzer Penn, President
December 2017 Highlights:
  1. President's Message
  2. December Holiday Party & Fault Zone Launch & Awards 
  3. November Speaker Recap 

  4. A Perplexing Poem by Ida Lewenstein
  5. This year in pictures

December 3, 2017

Holiday Party 2017 
& Fault Zone: Uplift Anthology Launch & Awards

Sunday, December 3rd
2:00-5:00 p.m.

Appetizers, Refreshments, Cash Bar
Significant others or friends welcome
Socialize, bring a dish, see and purchase the new Fault Zone: Uplift Anthology  and/or exhibit and sell your books.

Sunday, December 3, 2017
 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
California Writers Club
Sequoia Yacht Club
441 Seaport Court
Redwood City

Think Tank 
There will be No Think Tank in December

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

Future Think Tanks:
January 20  Elise Miller - Genealogy: Writing family history

February 17 Alfred Jan  - Writing criticism of art, books etc.

March 17 Laurel Shimmer - Genres and sub genres
April 21 Tim Flood -  Plot backward and write forward

Geri Spieler

Answering the Call -  How Jack and Charmian Kittredge London Inspired Me to Become a Writer Who Questions History  - Novem ber Meeting Recap

Presenter:    Iris Jamahl Dunkle

I was intrigued when our November speaker, poet   Iris Jamahl Dunkle, requested audio-visual support for PowerPoint. Why would a poet need PowerPoint? Because her presentation, "Answering the Call: How Jack and Charmian Kittredge London Changed My Life and Inspired Me to Become a Writer Who Questions History," blended her poetry with historical gems about Jack London with her poetry.

She might have called her talk "Charmian Kittredge London: Myth Busting." Much of the received wisdom about Jack London's remarkable wife came from an error-filled 1938  biography of London by Irving Stone. Discovering these falsehoods-and how they came about-prompted Dunkle to begin her own biography of Charmian. "I felt a call," she said. "Each time I found an artifact that challenged the assumed truth, I had to write a poem about it." For example, the poem " Make Them Float in Your Mouth" was inspired by a fraught ocean journey the couple took in Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Dunkle read a number of poems sparked by objects and adventures in the lives of Jack and Charmian. Charmian eventually became a writer in her own right, though not nearly as well known as her husband, who, Dunkle told us, was actually a failed poet who received more than 600 rejections of his poetry before he began writing short stories. "Her best creative work was creating her own life," Dunkle said of Charmian. 

Dunkle's forthcoming biography will, perhaps, help bring forward the true story of the woman whose life was intertwined with that of the iconic Jack London.

Audrey Kalman

CWC SF Peninsula Calendar

Sunday, December 3rd 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Holiday Party and Fault Zone Launch & Awards 
Sequoia Yacht Club
441 Seaport Ct.,  Redwood City



Wednesday, January 17, 2018
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Open Mic at  Reach & Teach,
Moderator: Pratibha Kelapure 
144 W. 25th Avenue, San Mateo. 
FREE but please purchase something in the store to support them. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018
 Think Tank
Moderator:  Elise Miller
Genealogy: Writing family history

Get tips on streamlining your work and on finding the center of your stories.  Elise will talk about her book and the research that took her through the Pale of Settlement to the American Midwest. There will be a writing exercise highlighting the intersection of memory, history and story. 

Think Tank is now open to all members, guests, and newcomers after the general meeting. FREE for meeting attendees.

Member News
Penelope Cole  is celebrating a whole string of successes this month! "Magical Max and Magical Mickey's Big Surprise," her fifth book in the Magical series that debuted April 2016, won a Book of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine. 

Another book, "In and Out, All 'Round About - Opposite Friends," for ages 5-8, won a 2017 Gold Medal from Children's Literary Classics, 2017 Book of the Year Award and a 2016 Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine.

James Hanna has not one, but two new story publications:

First, his irreverent tale, "USA," was recently published in The Broke Bohemian. 

Second, his apocalyptic story, "The Hangings," was recently published in A Lonely Riot Magazine. 

Here are the links:

Congratulations, everyone!

A Perplexing Poem
By Ida J. Lewenstein

I read a perplexing poem today.
I'm not really sure
What it's trying to say.
But someone apparently
More daring than me
Decided to print it
For all to see.
It harps on one word -
One word, ad infinitum.
But don't look at me
I just read 'em
 I don't write 'em.
I just scratch my head
In serious doubt,
And leave it to you
To figure it out.
Tough, tough tough
tough, tough tough
tough tough, the
wheels are tough, the
seats are tough, the
valves are tough, and
you're one tough guy
driving this tough truck
    To me.....
There's no flashes of Ogden Nash Nor hint of Edgar Allen Poe, Rather, I find it stuck in neutral
With simply nowhere to go.
Please help me out
It's tough to see
Is this really - poetry????

This Year in Pictures...
Outreach at Belmont Farmer's Market
Bardi & Boris in the paper

Bill Baynes honored
Darlene awarded
Barnes & Noble May 21 Event
President changeover

Jeannine Gerkman, Newsletter Editor
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.  

Special Offer from  Sand Hill Review 

The Sand Hill Review's online platform is at They do podcasts, interviews and discuss the craft of writing on their blog in addition to supporting writers, poets and artists by publishing their work online. 

They're on  Submittable, but because SHR has had a longstanding relationship with the CWC, they are offering CWC SF Peninsula chapter members
free submissions until January 1, 2018. Send submissions directly to

Jean Morrow
Flash Fiction & Poetry Workshops

Sign up to unleash your creativity with the expert leader in a supportive environment.

Pratibha Kelapure will conduct the following workshops:

Online Flash Fiction Workshop - Beginner - January 8- February 12
Online Flash Fiction Workshop - Advanced - February 19- March 26
Online Poetry Workshop - All Levels - January 8-Feb 12

Technical Requirements: A computer, email account, and internet access.

Click here to learn more.
Pratibha Kelapure

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 $17.95 for print + digital (all access); $14.95 for print only, and $7.95 for digital only. 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.
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.


Classified Ads

Sam Kauffman is inviting anyone interested in being part of a "holiday/winter" small event at Kingston Cafe in San Mateo to contact her at

Ernie Mendez is doing his memoir and would be interested in learning whether others might want to get in contact for an informal group to exchange ideas. You can reach him at .

Geri Spieler is looking for Think Tank moderators. You don't have to be an expert to lead a fun and informative discussion.  Please contact her with any questions or ideas at

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: Bette Houtchens, Margaret Nalbach & Tim Flood
Publicity Chair: Bill Baynes 
Newsletter Editor: Jeannine Gerkman 
SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Bardi Rosman Koodrin 
Parliamentarian: Bette Houtchens
NorCal Representative & Volunteer Coordinator: Carole Bumpus
Fault Zone Editor in Chief: 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
Member-at-Large: 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