California Writers Club San Francisco Peninsula Branch
The Monthly Missive
February 2021

  • President's Message
  • Meeting Announcement and Agenda
  • Presentation & Speaker
  • Think Tank
  • February Events
  • NEW - CWC NorCal Group Info
  • Member News
  • Resources for Members
  • DON'T MISS - Publishing Opportunity for all CWC Members!
  • CWC SF Peninsula Board Listing
Wielding Our Writing Superpower Responsibly
I’ve always believed that we writers have a superpower: the ability to inhabit other personas in the form of the characters we create on the page.

Recently, I’ve had to question that belief.

Last spring, after the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests against racism, many privileged white people like myself suddenly opened our eyes to what has been going on around us for centuries, and to our complicity in it. For writers and artists, this self-examination extended into the art we create.

Controversies over “writing the other” were already brewing. Early in 2020, for example, Jeanine Cummins’ novel American Dirt was in the spotlight, with authors, editors, and artists wondering, as NPR put it, “When does a depiction of culture, history and identity become inauthentic? And according to whom?” In 2019, Amélie Wen Zhao had withdrawn her book Blood Heir before it was published, a result of negative pre-publication responses to its depiction of slavery. She was only one of several YA authors who found themselves swept up in the tides of so-called “cancel culture.” And lest you think the challenges are confined to literary or YA fiction, the romance category has been the subject of similar upheavals.

These are difficult issues that go to the heart of who we are as artists and as human beings. And yet I find myself resisting the idea that I can’t “write the other.” As a straight white female, I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t write a character who is a man, or a lesbian, or a three-headed beast, or who comes from a background different than mine. I want to find the common threads that link my emotional experience to the experiences of those who are not like me. And yet I want to do it in a way that tells the truth of my experience without denying the truths of others.

It’s a tall order for us as writers.

Last spring, the CWC SF Peninsula board began exploring how we could help our members grapple with these issues. Thanks to the hard work and persistence of past branch president Lisa Meltzer Penn, we began putting together a panel to bring some much-needed practical ideas to writers on this topic. And thanks to Shuffle Collective, a new online literary community, we now have an offering on tap that we hope will help all of us as we apply our imaginations to worlds beyond our own.

Don’t miss the results of our efforts. The Inclusion, Confusion and Authenticity in Writing panel discussion will be on February 24 at 6 p.m. PST. It’s offered at no charge and it’s open to all, so please invite any writer friends who may want insights into these issues.

Saturday, February 20
Meeting ONLINE
10 AM - 1 PM

Registration for this meeting is required.

Much as we have enjoyed temporarily offering our meetings to all comers for no charge, the time has come for the return of meeting fees.

We are appealing to people's inclination to do what's right. Instead of requiring payment before registration, we respectfully request upon confirmation of your registration that you pay $5 (CWC members, any branch), $10 (non-members), or an amount of your choosing.

Thank you for your commitment to our continuing existence and your contribution to our community.

— Agenda —

10:00 AM – Mingle in breakout rooms with fellow writers
Breakout rooms open at 10... join when you want.
Note that our main meeting and Think Tank are shifted slightly later to accommodate speaker availability.

10:30 AM – Club business

11:00 AM – Speaker presentation
CJ Verburg presents
Traditional, Self-Published, and Both:
Paths to publication and what you should know
(more info below)

12:00 PM – Think Tank
Beyond Scrivener: A Basket of Emerging Tech Resources for Writers
led by Nancy Branka
(more info below)

CJ Verberg

After 20 years in traditional publishing, CJ embraced the indie revolution. Her own imprint, Boom-Books, has published three Regency romance novellas (ebook and audiobook), two multimedia biographies (print and ebook), and four mystery novels, including the international rock-n-roll musical adventure Another Number for the Road. Her stories appear in several commercially published anthologies and e-zines.

In April, the national Malice Domestic mystery conference will publish CJ's newest story, "A Terrible Tragedy," and Boom-Books will publish her newest novella, Scalped, or The Toastrack Enigma.

Like her long-time friend and collaborator Edward Gorey, who also published traditionally and through his own press, CJ views format as offering a dazzling range of possibilities to creative writers.

CJ Verburg is an award-winning playwright and theater director, editor of two international literature collections, and the author of two crime-fiction series.
Nancy Branka

There are a number of new tools (and a few that have been around a while but are now significantly improved) that Nancy has found to be really helpful in the writing process (and fun to try out!).

Nancy Branka is a writer, editor, and founder of Startup Decoder, a website for mid- and late-career employees in startups and tech. Prior, she served for four years as chief content officer for Bizly, a startup in the meetings/events space, and 14 years as managing editor of Executive Travel Magazine, a Time Inc./American Express Publishing title. She is the author of Employee 6 Is 54, a novel that sprang from her own work at a startup and her belief that older employees bring an important set of skills to the tech world.
Upcoming Events
SF Peninsula Branch Events
09:30 – 11:15 Shut Up & Write

19:00 – 20:00 Writers Helping Writers
(Zoom link NOT published!)
For the Zoom link, contact Cynthia McCarthy at

09:30 – 11:15 Shut Up & Write

10:00 – 13:00 MONTHLY MEETING

09:30 – 11:15 Shut Up & Write


19:00 – 20:30 Open Mic

18:00 – 19:30 Diversity Panel

NorCal CWC Group Info
The CWC SF Peninsula Branch is a member of the CWC NorCal Group of branches.
This means that, as a member in good standing of the SF Peninsula branch, you can attend other branches' events at their members' rates - no additional charges!

The NorCal CWC Group consists of the following branches:

We also invite you to visit the NorCal Group's calendar which aggregates all branches' events.
Member News

Colleen Olle and her husband published a children’s picture book, Sophia and Sinclair Go on an Adventure!

Do you have writing news you want to share? Reached a goal? Got your author website up? Have success you want to shout about? Tell us about it!

Send an email to with "Member News" as the Subject line, and the following information in the body of the email:

Description - No more than 15 words. Be as creative as your like - prose, verse, rhyme, stream of consciousness, you name it!
Who - your name (or pen name, if you're using one)
What - the exact nature of your success (i.e., short story, novel, website, agent, event, etc)
Where - links are great, or a physical location if it's relevant - or both!
Resources for Members
Rare Opportunity for CWC Members - All Branches!

The submission window for the 2021 Literary Review has opened. See the announcement and submission guidelines on our website, Please contact Managing Editor Elisabeth Tuck with any questions you might have.

Knock our socks off with your great submissions!
Check out the 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 also a list of branch members who provide writing-related services for a fee: editing, coaching, and more. 

Board Members
Executive Board
President: Audrey Kalman
Vice President: Geri Spieler
Secretary: Vibha Akkaraju
Treasurer: Alisha Willis

Additional Voting Positions
Membership Chair: Tim Flood
Marketing & Outreach Chair: Linda Glave
Fault Zone Editor-in-Chief: Laurel Anne Hill 
Immediate Past President: Lisa Meltzer Penn 
State Board Rep: Carole Bumpus
NorCal Rep: Carole Bumpus     
Committee/Individual Contributor Positions
Reading Series Coordinator: Lisa Meltzer Penn
Membership: Margaret Nalbach
Web Manager: Mindy Yang
Newsletter Editor: Linda Glave
Webpage & Newsletter Design: Corinna Sherman
Hospitality: Megan McDonald
Think Tank/Writers Helping Writers: Geri Spieler 
Retreat Coordinator: Korie Pelka
Volunteer Coordinator: OPEN
Parliamentarian: OPEN
SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Megan McDonald
SMCF Literary Stage Manager: Laurel Anne Hill
SMCF Literary Stage Exhibits Coordinator: Sue Barizon 
Critique Group Contact: Jean Morrow

Stay connected with us on Facebook and Twitter