President's Message
February, 2019

The objective of the San Francisco Peninsula Branch of the California Writers Club is to foster professionalism in writing, to promote networking of writers within the writing community, to provide literary support for writers and the writing community as is appropriate through education and leadership, and to mentor new writers. Furthermore, the branch will participate as appropriate to the furtherance of the rich literary tradition of the California Writers Club.

That's our mission statement, straight out of the Bylaws. How do you think we are doing?

We recently held a Sunday afternoon board retreat at the Redwood Shores Library focused on that very question.

I first learned of the CWC circa 2006, when the branch roster listed 65 members with an average of 20-30 in attendance at monthly meetings at the Belmont Library. I was a writer in Belmont. The library was walking distance from my house-how could I not join? A dozen years later we're established at our new digs overlooking the boats and the harbor at the spectacular Sequoia Yacht Club, with 130 members and an average of 50-60 attendees each month. We've more than doubled in size, with a regular influx of new members.

We also have a growing number of partners in the community, with our Writers Helping Writers workshop series being requested in multiple Peninsula libraries. We promote California Writers Week each October. We sponsor the Literary Stage and judge writing contests at the San Mateo County Fair. We now boast seven volumes of Fault Zone, our branch literary anthology, with the eighth in the pipeline. Those are just a few of our regular activities and accomplishments.

We're doing a lot right. And we want to do more. But first, it's time for some restructuring to accommodate all this growth and to reevaluate what our members want, what we come here for. At our retreat we began plans to move to a model that ups the game for how we get things done, reorganizing committees, redefining roles within the club, and making room for more members to get involved through small, manageable tasks that make a big difference.

As writers, we spend a lot of time alone in a room. It can be easy to fall into Lonely Writer Syndrome. But when you're part of a club, you're not alone. We grow, not just by numbers, but by association.  Let's celebrate writers, writing, books, reading, collaborations and partnerships, and all the ties that bind us together in our often solitary endeavors.

Thank you to members who've stuck with us over the years. Welcome to new members just finding us, even if it's not close enough to walk. And here's to furthering rich literary traditions.

Lisa Meltzer Penn
February 2019 Highlights:
  1. President's Message - Lisa Meltzer Penn
  2. Full Day Workshop with Elizabeth Stark: "Find Your Characters and Follow Them to Danger" coming up Saturday, March 2, 2019 sponsored by CWC SF Peninsula Club - registration open now
  3. Speaker: Jane Anne Staw - Facing the Blank Page
  4. Think Tank: Using the Story Grid to Edit Your Novel
  5. January speaker highlights
  6. Member News
  7. Open Mic News
  8. Get Involved
  9. Upcoming Writers Conferences

Saturday, March 2, 2019
Full-Day Writing Workshop


Find Your Characters  and Follow Them Into Danger

Join renowned writer, editor, teacher and coach Elizabeth Stark for a special one-day craft workshop hosted by CWC SF-Peninsula all about developing characters and using them to propel page-turning plots. We'll gather for inspiration and warm up, then get to work digging deep to discover how to create characters in need of a story-the secret to making a powerful, character-driven plot. After lunch, we'll turn to the twists and turns that create a page-turning ride for your characters.
This is a hands-on workshop: you'll have time to practice what you learn and share with others. And it's suitable for writers of memoir and creative non-fiction as well as fiction... any storyteller interested in creating a compelling narrative that feels true to life.
Enter the code CWCMember for special CWC member pricing ($25 off).

February 16, 2019 
Speaker - Jane Anne Staw
Facing the Blank Page

The blank page has haunted writers for centuries. Most writers find that simply sitting down and putting the first words on the page is daunting. And we come up with all sorts of excuses and must-do's to avoid starting. Jane Anne Staw's talk will explore strategies, like thinking small and creating a writing savings account, to help writers who are struggling-or who have ever struggled-with what the French call la page blanche.

Jane Anne Staw has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop; Stanford University; for over 20 years at The University of California at Berkeley Extension, where she was named an honored instructor; and most recently, for 12 years, in the MFA Program in Writing at the University of San Francisco. She serves on the advisory board of the UC Extension Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Writing. As well, she has been a Bay Area writing coach for the past 15 years, working with writers on projects ranging from memoirs and historical fiction to novels, short stories and essays. Her books include: Small: The Little We Need for Happiness, Shanti Arts Publishing, 2017; Unstuck: A Supportive and Practical Guide to Working Through Writer's Block, St. Martin's, 2003, Parsnips in the Snow: Talks with Midwestern Gardeners (with Mary Swander), University of Iowa Press, 1990.

Saturday, February 16 at 10:00 a.m.
FREE  to first-time attendees! 
$10 Members; $15 Non-Members; $5 Students/ID

Think Tank

February 16, 2019  
Moderator: Melanie Shook 
Presentation: Using the Story Grid to Edit Your Novel

So you've finished the first draft of your novel and now it's time to edit. Before you start focusing on comma splices or grammar mistakes, you ask yourself, does the story work? And if something doesn't seem right, how do you fix it? 

Shawn Coyne,  an editor with over 25 years of experience in traditional publishing, shares his methodology in his book, "The Story Grid." The book's website ( describes the Story Grid as " a tool developed by editor Shawn Coyne to analyze stories and provide helpful editorial comments. It's like a CT Scan that takes a photo of the global story and tells the editor or writer what is working, what is not, and what must be done to make what works better and fix what's not." 

This Think Tank session will provide an introduction to the Story Grid and a discussion on how to use it.
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).

Writers Helping Writers
2nd Wednesday in San Mateo  New Location!
3rd Wednesday  in San Carlos
7:00 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
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.

Topic: Super-Sleuthing: Internet Research Secrets Everyone Should Know 
Moderator: Geri Spieler
February 13, 2019 - San Mateo 

Topic:  Wake Up Your Writing With Good Use of Dialog
Moderator: Laureen Diephof
February 20, 2019 - San Carlos

Writers Helping Writers

March 13, 2019 - San Mateo
Moderator: Laurel Anne Hill

March 20, 2019 - San Carlos
Topic: All About Editing
Moderators: Lisa Meltzer Penn and Audrey Kalman

3rd Saturday at Sequoia Yacht Club 

10:00 a.m. to noon 
Speaker: Jane Anne Staw
Topic: Facing the Blank Page

noon to 1:00 p.m.
Think Tank Moderator: Melanie Shook
Topic: Using the Story Grid to Edit Your Novel

February 16, 2019

Monthly Meeting 
3rd Saturday of each month

March 16, 2019

April 20, 2019

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

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 
February 26, 2019

Open Mic
4th Tuesday of each month

March 26, 2019

April 23, 2019

March 2, 2019
Full Day Writing Workshop:
Find Your Characters and Follow Them Into Danger
Sign up now
$25 discount for CWC members 
(use code CWCMember when registering)

January Speaker Highlights
Photo by Doug Baird
Photo by Doug Baird

Poet Idris Anderson spoke in January about "Tunneling, a Writer's Process." She based her idea on something novelist Virginia Woolf referred to in her journal about the process of writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway . Idris began by admitting that a mentor once told her "You have narrative in your bones," which meant that she found it challenging to dive into some of the poetic and storytelling techniques that rely less on narrative and more on stream-of-consciousness or sensation.

Going back to her roots in academia, Idris taught a mini-seminar on a passage from Mrs. Dalloway , inviting several audience members to read a part of the passage. She contrasted what the words seem to be saying with the sensory and associative meanings, illustrating how Woolf's masterful point-of-view shifts allow the reader a deeper understanding of the characters. 

The audience--even those who were not Virginia Woolf fans--was left with an appreciation of the unconscious at work in a writer's process. Looking at how a piece is put together can give us ideas and insights about how to approach our own work. 

Idris finished with a reading of one of her own poems in which she attempted to break her narrative style. 

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

Martha Clark Scala's memoir, Assembling a Life: Claiming the Arti st in My Father (and Myself) , is now available.  Assembling a Life   is an assembly of poignant vignettes, photos, lore and poetry into a vivid collage of words and images. F or more information, v isit  Martha's website

James Hanna's short story, "The Dress," appears in Literally Stories. Another of his stories, "Little Darling," appears in Trampset. "The Dress" is about a drifter stranded in the Australian Outback. "Little Darling" is about a playboy who bonds with a female ghost.

Shark Reef has just published Carol Park's flash fiction. This on-line literary journal asks for more submissions--it could be the right spot for you to place your story!  Read Carol's piece here (Carol suggests a read of their home page article and the "about" section before you try submitting.)  

Audrey Kalman's short story "Ramps Season" appears in the  January, 2019 issue  of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

Dave M Strom was the headliner of the literary open mic at Caffe Frascati (315 S 1st St, San Jose) on January 24, 7PM. He performed The Intellecta Rhapsody, where Super Holly Hansson gets into a nasty argument with her boyfriend's Intellecta-car during a driving lesson, but has to join forces with the car to defeat Rocky the gangster (think Edward G. Robinson) and his gang, who stole a giant super tank loaded with Holly's kryptonite: green lutefisk!

Open Mic News

Tuesday, January 22, 2019, was our first Open Mic on the 4th Tuesday in San Carlos. We had 10 attendees and five participants at the Hot Spot (a welcoming space on the first floor of the San Carlos Library). We were thrilled to have seven newcomers and three provide email addresses (to receive a copy of our CWC newsletter). They had learned about the Open Mic from San Carlos Library's website. Of the participants, we had one playwright, one blogger, one memoirist, and two poets. Our normal Library contact, Rhea, does not work on Tuesdays, so she introduced us to Deidre who will be our new Library contact for the upcoming Tuesdays. 

A lovely time was had by all. In addition to listening to each other's work; I talked about our meetings and workshops (including our weekly "shut up and write",our all day "follow your characters into danger seminar" and the two "writers helping writers workshops") and the benefits of membership. We enjoyed a dynamic Q & A and chances are very good we will see these newcomers at our upcoming monthly meetings and/or classes. 

As much as I enjoy hosting the Open Mic, I would love to share the wealth with other members. So, if you are interested in hearing brand-new work from brand-new voices; come join us the 4th Tuesday of the month, and share your time and talents. Hosting is very low key...people write down their names, what their genre is, and their email if they wish more information. The Emcee's job is to:
  1. Arrive 6:45 p.m. at the San Carlos Library
  2. Have a piece of paper and pen ready for the signup sheet.
  3. Greet and welcome each attendee
  4. Introduce each reader (i.e. say their name and what sort of genre to expect)
  5. Time readers (10 minutes or less)
  6. Tell the audience a little bit about CWC and our SF Peninsula Chapter
  7. End Open Mic by 8:30 p.m.
  8. Email those who provided emails with a Thank You note and link to our website. 
  9. Hand out CWC SF Peninsula brochures to those who are interested.
Easy peasy!! Contact me for more information on co-hosting at

Jeannine Gerkman

Get Involved!

We had a great time at our board retreat planning activities, programs, and events to make our club even better. There are lots of opportunities for you to join the fun!

Contact Alisha Willis or talk to any board member at the monthly meeting for more information.
Upcoming Writers Conferences

San Francisco Writers Conference February 14-18, 2019
Find out more on their website.

Find Your Characters and Follow Them Into Danger March 2, 2019
Full Day Workshop - Sign Up Now.

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

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. 

We are delighted to have had so many eager volunteers ready to help with Outreach and Marketing, Membership, Hospitality, Open Mic, Special Events, and Fault Zone. If you missed out and/or have questions about upcoming opportunities, please contact our President, Lisa Meltzer Penn at
Critique Groups

Look for updated information on joining Critique Groups  soon .
Any questions in the meantime? Contact Lisa Meltzer Penn at 
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: Bill Baynes 
Newsletter Editor: Jeannine Gerkman 
Acting SMCF  Literary Stage Coordinator: Sue Barizon  
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

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