January 2021
Our next board meeting is on Tuesday, January 12, 6-7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Board meetings are held 6-7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month unless otherwise noted, and are open to any member in good standing. If you would like to attend a board meeting, contact: to receive an invitation.
Mark your calendars for this month's upcoming events! Keep reading the newsletter for more details about each event.
January 1: Participation deadline for Author Launch signups (Full - waiting list only)

January 1: Half year memberships begin - renew/join for half price

January 12: RW Board meeting

January 16: RW Circle

January 16: General meeting with speaker Shelley Blanton-Stroud
Saturday, January 16
1 - 2:30 p.m.
via ZOOM*
Cost is $5 for members and $10 for guests.
Fact and Truth: Fiction and Nonfiction
Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Shelley Blanton-Stroud will discuss the theme of Fact and Fiction in her novel Copy Boy, historical references that set it in motion, as well as the opportunities and obligations that come with fictionalizing history.

Shelley Blanton-Stroud grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. She teaches college writing in Northern California and consults with writers in the energy industry. Shelley co-directs Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serves on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children. She has also served on the Writers’ Advisory Board for the Belize Writers’ Conference. Copy Boy is her first novel, and she’s currently working on her second. She also writes and publishes flash fiction and non-fiction, which you can find in such journals as Brevity and Cleaver. She and her husband live in Sacramento with an aging beagle and many photos of their out-of-state sons.

January's General Meeting Agenda
  • Zoom meeting room opens at 12:45 p.m. for open conversation
  • Meeting starts at 1 p.m.
  • RW Anthology Sunrise Sunset reading by Robbi Sommers Bryant
  • Featured speaker Shelley Blanton-Stroud
  • Chair announcements
  • Member announcements
  • Adjourn at 2:30 p.m.
  • Mingle on Zoom until 3 pm.
*WHAT IS ZOOM? It's the most popular online platform for virtual presentations, meetings, get-togethers, etc. Just go to and download the app on your phone, iPad, or computer (camera required to participate). If you can't join us live, you will be able to download the presentation for viewing/sharing at your leisure (and don't we have plenty of that!).
At our January general meeting, we are excited to hear Robbi Sommers Bryant read an excerpt from her short story, "The Darkness," which was featured in our 2020 anthology Sunset Sunrise. This is also a chapter from her upcoming novel, The Darkness, which has already won several awards.

Here's a little more about Robbi:
Robbi Sommers Bryant’s award-winning books include a novella, four novels, five story collections, and one book of poetry. Published in Readers Digest, Redbook, Penthouse, college textbooks, and anthologies—Robbi’s work was optioned for TV’s Movie of the Week. She also appeared on TV’s Jane Whitney Show. Robbi specializes as an editor.

We look forward to hearing you read, Robbi!
As many of you are aware, our Yahoo ListServ has gone away. This is the communication system we've used for years to share writing-related news and events with each other. The board is working on a solution, but in the interim, there are several other ways you can keep in touch with the club and with each other. 

1. Join our Facebook community group:
This group allows you to easily share with other members things that are happening in your writing world. If you just released a book, published an article, have a tip to share, or have any other writing related news, this is the perfect place to share. 

2. Visit our website at
Our website is full of information you won't want to miss, thanks to our wonderful web editor, Joelle Burnette. 

3. Follow us on social media: 

4. Attend our general meetings!
Our next meeting is on Jan. 16, featuring Shelley Blanton-Stroud on the theme of Fact and Fiction. We open the meeting 15 minutes early and 30 minutes late to allow for networking. There is also time during the meeting for member announcements. 

5. Read our newsletter!
Obviously you're on the right track, because you're doing that now! Our newsletters are released to members on the 1st of every month, and they share every thing you can expect from our club throughout that month plus a chance to share your own news. If you have a writing-related announcement you'd like to share, email the editor at by the 15th to be included in the next month's newsletter.
We are looking for our next prose anthology editor! This is your chance to put your stamp on our club's next anthology, with the opportunity to choose the theme, work with a team of talented editors, and get a first look at the writing abilities of our club members. If you have a vision for our next anthology, and would like to be a huge part in bringing our members' stories forward, you could be our next editor. Email our president Shawn Langwell at for details.
We are so happy with our 2020 poetry anthology, AND YET. We will be posting a poem from the anthology each month. Copies of the anthology are available on Amazon.

With love,
Fran Claggett-Holland and Les Bernstein
This month's poem is by Marilyn Campbell.

Marilyn Campbell draws on her experience as a former social worker when she writes. In addition to publishing two historical fiction novels, Trains to Concordia and A Train to Nowhere, she contributed poetry to Stolen Light, Redwood Writers 2016 Poetry Anthology. Her short stories have appeared in small journals and anthologies. She is a member of both Redwood Writers and Napa Valley Writers.
Morning Walk
by Marilyn Campbell
The man and his dog with matching limps
venture out each morning.
The man has a cane.
The dog does not.
They move in fits and starts,
stopping often, the dog to lift his leg,
the man to catch his breath.
They are like couples
who have grown old together,
adopting each other’s mannerisms,
finishing each other’s sentences.
Theirs is the perfect union,
an inspiration to those of us
who remain imperfect.

Please submit poems to: Submission guidelines: single-spaced, Times or Times New Roman, 12 point font, no all caps, please. Poems are reviewed by a team of poets. We will acknowledge receipt of your work, and let you know if your poem is going to be included, or if we are requesting minor edits prior to inclusion.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, January 16
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via Zoom
The Circle's mission is to offer members a constructive and enjoyable environment in which to read their works, among the warmth and support of fellow writers, and to include brief evaluations and short talks on craft and other writing-related subjects.

Agenda for meetings will follow the following format:
  • Meeting runs 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Those to be "readers" will be limited to the first 15 RW members who register
  • Other attendees may participate as "listeners"
  • Each reader will have a total 5 minutes (including, introductory remarks)
  • Evaluations will be suspended during Zoom meetings

Members who would like to attend should send an RSVP email to Linda Reid at Upon confirmation, you will receive your Zoom link.
February Workshop - Register Today!
The Creative Spark Workshop 
with Michael Shapiro
Michael Shapiro
WHEN: Wednesday, February 16
TIME: 6-7:30 p.m.
COST: $25 for CWC members, $35 for nonmembers

This is an online event.

Creative people have a certain spark: a brightness in their eyes, an inquisitive way of looking at the world, a desire to make things. But that spark doesn’t reside solely in people seen as creators. It’s in all of us, just waiting to break out. This workshop will talk about cultivating our creativity in whatever ways we choose to express ourselves.
This workshop is perfect for creatives, authors, poets, artists, and those want to deepen their creativity.

This workshop is open to all members of Redwood Writers, California Writers Club, and to the public.
The Creative Spark
Michael Shapiro is the author of The Creative Spark: How musicians, writers, explorers, and other artists found their inner fire and followed their dreams, published in late 2019. The book is a collection of interviews and biographical sketches that serve as inspiration for creative endeavors. Among those Shapiro interviewed: Smokey Robinson, Lucinda Williams, Francis Ford Coppola, Pico Iyer, Jane Goodall, Amy Tan, David Sedaris, and Barbara Kingsolver.

A freelance journalist, Shapiro’s features have appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. He’s written for magazines including National Geographic, Saturday Evening Post, The Sun, and Alaska Beyond. He’s even profiled Jane Goodall for O the Oprah magazine.

Shapiro’s first literary book, A Sense of Place, is a collection of interviews with the world’s leading travel authors including Bill Bryson, Jan Morris, Peter Matthiessen, Isabel Allende and Paul Theroux. For this book, Shapiro traveled to the authors’ houses, such as Frances Mayes’ home in Tuscany, to write about what place meant to them, not just the places to which they traveled, but the places they chose to call home.
Upcoming Workshop
Screenwriting with Indigo Moor

Save the date for March 10, 6-7:30 p.m. on Zoom
$25 members (any CWC chapter)
$35 guests

Details to come
Do you have valuable writing tips to share? Have you learned something about marketing that could help other writers? Perhaps you know the secrets to finding an agent or gathering reader interest on social media. This section is dedicated to sharing writing-related wisdom with our fellow writers. If you would like to contribute to this section of the newsletter, please send your 300-word or less article plus a bio to the editor at for possible publication.
Spend Quality Time With Your Characters
by Crissi Langwell
I’ve been editing the rough draft of my most recently written novel for the past several months, and it’s been somewhere between inspiring and torturous. It’s still mostly a first draft, which, as most writers know, is just me telling myself the story. The real work begins in this second draft stage, and it can feel daunting at times, especially when the vision I have for the story is as magnificent as a sprawling castle, but the first draft reality is closer to a shed in the backyard.

That’s where I’ve been. The basics are there, but now I need to color in the lines to help everyone else fall in love with my characters the same way I have. So where to start? How can I make this mess of a story something people will resonate with?

Whenever I’m stuck in the writing or editing process, almost always it’s because I’m still not clear on details about my characters. This is a sign I need to stop writing/editing the story and spend the day with the people I’m writing about. I’ll write a whole bio on them that includes what they look like (picking actors to model them after is a huge help!), how they sound, how they move, what they dress like, etc. I include their favorite foods, colors, animals, hobbies, and interests. I’ll also write about the things they’ve experienced in the past that has contributed to who they are now. I may even stop everything for a few days and dig deeper with dream boards, creating massive collages dedicated to that character as I learn more about them.

Here's a photo of my cork board at home with the actors who won the roles of my characters:
When I'm writing or editing my novel, it's inspirational to have my characters in front of me, as if they are physically with me as I tell their story.

Writing detailed character bios has been a great journaling exercise, and it almost always helps me move forward with the story. A good majority of this bio doesn’t actually end up in the novel (you may never learn my characters’ favorite colors), but it does make for great blog material later on when you’re marketing the novel, or even just wonderful keepsakes to hold on to once the novel is done.

Crissi Langwell writes romance, magical realism, and women’s fiction novels that often tell the story of the underdog. Find her books at
The CWC Literary Review is now accepting submissions for their 2021 issue. Deadline to submit is March 15, 2021.

This year's submission categories are:
  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Memoir
  • Essay
  • Poetry
  • Humor

To quote a luminary of the Literary Review:
“We have no particular theme, most content is acceptable. We do look at the technical stuff. When assessing fiction and memoir, we chew over story and character development, realism, pacing, grammar, and reader engagement. With essay we add information, persuasion, and factual interrelationships. For poetry we want to be moved with an emotional experience. Writing, they say, is easy. Good writing is a challenge to imagination, memory, and skill. Minor errors can be fixed.”

The Literary Review is looking for excellent writing. Light themes and humor are always welcome. Unacceptable are pieces that proselytize, are libelous, or contain gratuitous vulgarity. They will accept excerpts from previously published work provided that you hold the copyright.

For all the guidelines and submission information, click the link below.
P.S. If you would like to be part of the acquisition team, please contact the managing editor at Judges are allowed to submit their own writing, and are welcome to read as little or as much writing in any preferred category.
If you have news to share about your writing, an award, an appearance, or other writing-related news, send a 100-word or less announcement to Photos encouraged. Deadline for consideration in next month’s newsletter is the 15th of this month.
Nancy J. Martin received commentary from the judges of the 28th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards on her memoir, From the Summer of Love to the Valley of the Moon. Here is the review:
From the Summer of Love to the Valley of the Moon by Nancy J. Martin is riveting from start to finish. This reviewer picked up this book and got sucked in immediately by prose that read like an excellent novel. It opens with a great hook, so the reader immediately becomes engaged in the story. And it didn't stop there. This author shows a great talent for skipping all the boring parts no one wants to read and chooses the nuggets that people want to know. While Martin has suffered her share of setbacks, never did the book feel self-pitying, nor does the reader feel she has a proverbial axe to grind or is trying to get revenge. Yet her book does have a tremendous purpose, particularly to encourage the reader to get involved or at least to care more about the care of the mentally ill. This book is so timely because people are really interested in the eras she writes about, yet timeless in that the author's life is relatable.
The cover photos are intriguing. The back cover copy invites the reader in, as does the endorsement. The photo on the back is appealing. The pictures inside depict beautiful people we want to learn about.
This reviewer appreciates this memoir and hopes the author will keep getting her message to the public.
Joan Goodreau read her poetry at the virtual Diverse Minds Journal Release Celebration on December 9th. 
Roger DeBeers, Sr.'s mystery novel Murder Under White received a 5-star rating from Readers' Favorite Book Review and Award Contest. Here is an excerpt of the reviewer's comments:

"Murder Under White is a take-no-prisoners kind of novel that rips away the veneer of society and introduces you to an underworld of corruption and deceit. There is a lot to unpack in this heart- pounding story, but it's a delicious dive into a fictional world you can get lost in. From the first tense lines of the opening chapter until the end you will be intrigued by this story."
CWC Marin
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Creative Writers
with Lyzette Wanzer

Sunday, January 24, 2-4 pm.

Want to be taken seriously as an author, even though you have yet to publish the Great American Novel or place an article in The Atlantic? You need to learn to treat your writing–poetry, fiction, nonfiction–as a business. Believe it or not, one of the best ways of getting the literary world to notice you is to manage the less-sexy aspects of your practice. That means realizing that writing is a business, not just an art. Marketing is a critical, often overlooked aspect of our craft. In this presentation, you will get a brief overview of the seven habits that will enable you to boost your writing career!

Lyzette Wanzer, MFA is a San Francisco writer, editor, and writing workshop instructor. Her work has appeared in over 25 literary journals, magazines, and books. She is a contributor to The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays (Wyatt-MacKenzie), Civil Liberties United: Diverse Voices from the San Francisco Bay Area (Pease Press), and 642 Tiny Things to Write About (Chronicle Books). Lyzette is the current judge of the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition’s Intercultural Essay category and the Women’s National Book Association’s Effie Lee Morris Writing Contest’s nonfiction category.

Lyzette has received grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco Arts Commission, the Creative Capacity Fund, and the Horned Dorset Colony. She enjoys presenting her work at conferences across the country, and has been awarded writing residencies in CA, NE, NY, OR, VA, and Canada. Her newest projects are an essay anthology called Trauma, Tresses, & Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narrative, and Professionalize Your Creative Writing Practice: Building A Career As A Literary Artist, a professional development workbook for creative writers.
CWC NorCal Calendar

Because of social distancing, most events are now held virtually. This presents a unique opportunity to attend events, workshops, and meetings held by other CWC branches that would have been difficult to attend in person. To keep up to date with upcoming events, be sure to check the CWC NorCal calendar at the button below.
We're not just writers, we're readers, too! Have you read a book you think others should read? Send your 100-word book review and a photo of the book to the editor at for possible publication in the newsletter.

Note: We welcome reviews about your fellow Redwood Writers' books!
Sorrow, by Tiffanie DeBartolo

One of the best books I read in 2020 was Sorrow, by Tiffanie DeBartolo, an author who lives in Mill Valley. DeBartolo used Mill Valley and other local places as the setting of her story, and it was wonderful to read about familiar places. But even more wonderful was the masterful way DeBartolo wove the setting into the story, almost as if it were one of the characters. I was able to smell the redwoods just as deeply as I felt the emotions of this tragic and beautiful love story. If you’d like inspiration on how to use setting in a story, I highly recommend you add Sorrow to your reading list. 

- Crissi Langwell
February 20
Redwood Writers Author Launch

Twelve Redwood Writers authors will present their newly published books at our February general meeting, and they will read passages from these publications. Come celebrate our club members' success at this free meeting in February. Register early by clicking here.
In memory of Hank Mattimore: priest, father, grandfather, mentor, and community leader

Hank Mattimore, a longtime Redwood Writers member, passed away on December 15, 2020. He was a kind, gentle soul whose life was spent ministering to others. At the tender age of eighteen, he entered the seminary to become a Catholic priest. Ordained at age 26, he spent time as a missionary in Japan and later assigned to an inner-city parish in Florida. He left the priesthood at age 36 to marry and start a family. Those life experiences inspired his memoir The Priest Who Couldn’t Cheat. He became a father of two children and two grandchildren.

His first marriage did not last, and he eventually remarried. His beloved second wife of ten years, Kathleen died of cancer. Hank’s lifelong mission to give unto others led him to be a spiritual adviser at the Sonoma County Juvenile Hall, serve as a chairman of the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Commission and become a live-in grandpa for twenty-four abused and neglected children at Santa Rosa’s Children’s Village. Those experiences were captured in his book Grandpa To a Children’s Village.

Hank was also a columnist for twenty-years for the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield. Many of his columns about the meaning of life, love, and loss were collected in his book Life is a Growin’ Thing: Ya Grows or Ya Dies. Other books he wrote were Figuring It Out
As I Go Along and Legacy of the Heart. Then in September 2020, came his last book A Life Lived: Reflections on Life, Love and the Human Condition by Someone Who Has Been There.

Kate Farrell’s review, “Written by a man of faith and compassion, this book inspires and surprises. Interwoven with Hank’s meditations are breathtaking landscape photographs of the American Southwest taken by Rozanne Hakala. Included are blank, lined pages meant to be filled out by the reader with Thoughts and Reflections. This is a book to be treasured as the very personal author approaches his last threshold with wisdom and grace. What a wonderful goodbye!”

On November 16, Hank posted this message on Facebook as a way to prepare us for the inevitable:

“All my life I thought that the best way to die is quickly via an accident or sudden heart attack. But here I am leaving my life on earth rather slowly on hospice and receiving palliative care. But you know what? I find it satisfying to be able to contact old friends and say my farewell’s and ask their forgiveness or thank them for being part of my life. I am also experiencing firsthand the love my kids and grandkids are showing me. It’s not all bad dying a little bit at a time. I see it now with a different perspective and am grateful for the opportunity to go slowly and consciously into a new life.”

Hank was generous with praise, and supportive of other writers. He asked Chris Coursey, columnist for the Press Democrat, and me, when I was president of Redwood Writers, to serve as judges for a writing contest for kids in the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice system. It was an enlightening experience for me, and it helped those students envision themselves as having a voice worth being read.

Many of Hank’s books are available for purchase on Amazon as either trade paperback or ebooks. Here are links to some recent articles he wrote:

  • January 22, 2019, an essay about how the power of love for children should impact people.

  • October 13, 2015, an opinion piece about the closing of The Children’s Village.

May his life and legacy live on through his words and by the compassion he showed toward others.

Linda C. McCabe, Redwood Writers past president

Did you forget to renew your membership? Or are you still on the fence about joining? January is the perfect opportunity to make the leap and join Redwood Writers.

On January 1, 2021 new members can join the club for the half year price of $42.50. If you are a past member and forget to renew in 2020, you can also join in January for the half year price.

Our 2021 calendar is a full schedule of inspiring speakers, fun writing contests, valuable workshops, and publishing opportunities through our anthologies. Join in January to receive the reduced rate, and to take advantage of all the Redwood Writers branch has to offer.
New Year, new look! I thought I'd give this newsletter a little freshening up as we welcome the freshness of 2021. New additions to this newsletter include the "Writers Helping Writers" section, and a section dedicated to short book reviews.

What do you think? If you have suggestions on what you'd like to see in our newsletter, what you like, or what could be better, I welcome your feedback.

What I would really like to see more of this year is YOUR news. Our member announcements section is your chance to share what's happening in your writing world. Have you finished writing your book? Are you hosting a virtual writing-related event? Has your writing received an honor? Your news is our inspiration, and we'd love to hear about it! Email me before the 15th of the month to be included in our next newsletter.
In case you missed it, here are some of the events and information we shared in this newsletter:

  • Shelley Blanton-Stroud will share about Fact and Fiction at our January meeting.
  • Redwood Writers Circle is this month, and you're invited to read your writing.
  • Registration is now open for our February workshop with Michael Shapiro.
  • Half year memberships are available for new members, or members who haven't renewed yet.
  • The CWC Lit Review is now accepting submissions.
  • Details on how to connect with us.

I hope you have a wonderful month! Happy writing!

Crissi Langwell
Redwood Writer Editor
Want to be a part of the newsletter? Here's the cheat sheet to the different sections of this newsletter and the word count requirements:

  • Writers Helping Writers - 300 words or less
  • Other Articles or In Memoriam - 300 words or less
  • Members News - 100 words or less
  • What We're Reading - 100 words or less
  • Homegrown Poetry - short poems work best

Please send your articles and news to the newsletter editor at Please send your poems to the poetry editor at Submission guidelines may apply, read section for requirements.
EDITOR: Crissi Langwell
Our mailing address is:
The Redwood Writer
P.O. Box 4687
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Redwood Writers is a branch of the California Writers Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.