President's Message
July, 2018 

Dog Days

My family celebrated the end of the school year with a trip to the Russian River. A shallow river is a great way to get your feet wet. We brought along our English Springer Spaniel, Ruby, a water dog, born and bred. Yet Ruby has always hesitated going farther in than her feet could touch bottom.

While my husband and kids paddled down the river in kayaks, I threw the dog a ball on the rocky beach. Into the shallow, gently-sloping river, this way and that, until finally the ball plunked into the water just a little deeper, and without thought Ruby dog-paddled a few strokes out for the ball and back until her feet could touch again. I threw it again to the same effect. And then slightly farther each time, until our spaniel was happily paddling to the middle of the river. By the time the rest of family kayaked back, they found a lean, mean dog paddler, like she'd done it her whole life. It was in her blood and her bones all along.

Meanwhile, for those days I relaxed and gave myself a break from the deep, sometimes scary dive of formal writing and novel revising. My computer laptop sat in its bag untouched. I did write one page longhand out on the back deck toward the end of the trip. Dipping my toes back in.

We returned home, refreshed and relaxed. In the morning, I found myself reaching for a pen before my eyes were open, lured gently back in, a little farther, a little more, just for fun, until I was paddling through my new summer notebook, and six or seven pages later I splashed out for breakfast, shaking off the words and touching my feet to the floor again.

This summer, may you travel to places near or far where you can relax and touch bottom for a while, and then go in a little further just for fun. Writing, life, adventure. It's in your bones. It's in your blood.

Note that in July there will be no meeting or Open Mic.

So take a break, enjoy yourself, and see you in August for our Focus on Fault Zone session with editor Laurel Anne Hill as she turns her attention to the next volume of our anthology series. Her talk promises to be chockful of useful information for your writing.

And I would be remiss if I did not give many kudos to all who came to participate in the incredible Literary Stage at the San Mateo County Fair. Our branch of the CWC once again sponsored a fantastic nine-day event. The Literary Stage is truly a Fair within the Fair. It's like a year's worth of speakers, panels, and readings rolled into one. I encourage everyone to take part next June. I learned a lot!

We will be highlighting some of the award-winning stories, poems, and essays from the Fair in upcoming issues of the San Francisco Peninsula Writer.

  Lisa Meltzer Penn
President, CWC San Francisco Peninsula Branch
July 2018 Highlights:
  1. President's Message
  2. Preview of August Speaker - Laurel Anne Hill - Focus on Fault Zone
  3. Renew Your Membership - Tim Flood 
  4. Embracing True Love at Pen to Published - Laurel Shimer
  5. Louise Boggess Award (Bette Houchens honored)
  6. I've Got Writer's Block - Ida J. Lewenstein



Speaker: Laurel Anne Hill
Subject: Focus on Fault Zone

Do you want to bring your stories (poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction) to the world? 

Our branch is gearing up to produce the next volume in our popular anthology series. At the August meeting, Fault Zone  Editor Laurel Anne Hill will introduce the theme and submission guidelines. 

Bring your questions to this lively presentation and get the inside scoop on preparing your work for submission. Find out what the editors look for--and what they definitely don't want to see--and give yourself the best chance for publication in Fault Zone:  Strike Slip , volume 8 in the series. 

When: Saturday, August 18, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Where: The Sequoia Yacht Club 441 Seaport Ct, Redwood City, CA 94063
2018-2019 New Executive Board

We held annual elections at the June meeting.

Parliamentarian Alisha Willis took the vote by show of hands for the proposed slate. 

Your new executive board for the 2018-2019 year is:
  • President: Lisa Meltzer Penn
  • Vice President/Speakers: Audrey Kalman
  • Treasurer: Jean Morrow
  • Secretary: Korie Pelka
We look forward to another exciting year of writing and community!

CWC SF Peninsula Calendar


Every Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Shut Up & Write
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.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Open Mic
Jeannine Gerkman and Maurine Killough are the co-hosts of Open Mic the first Wednesday of each month at the  San Carlos Library starting in August. We meet on the first floor in a section called 'the Spot'. Come bring your original material to share.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
"Writers Helping Writers"
Part II of the Art of Critique 
Moderator: Carole Bumpus


Wednesday, August 15, 2018
7:00 to 9:00 p.m
"Writers Helping Writers"


Instead you are all invited to enjoy your summer. We'll meet again in August. 

Time to Renew Your Membership

Existing Members : You should be receiving an email soon from Tim Flood with instructions on how to renew your CWC SF/Peninsula membership. If you don't hear from him in the next few days, you may contact him directly at

New Members/Late Renewals : If you are joining for the first time or have missed the renewal deadline, there is a small processing fee. Questions? Then contact Tim Flood at  

How to Renew:
Annual Dues may be paid by cash, check, or  PayPal. Still have questions? Click here.

If you pay by check, please make it out to "C WC SF-Peninsula". You can bring your funds to the August meeting or mail your check to:

 CWC SF-Peninsula, P.O. Box 853, Belmont, CA 94002. 

Thank you.
Tim Flood
MEETING WRAP-UP  June 16, 2018

Speaker: James Hanna
Topic: Ten Writing Traps and How to Keep Out of Them

James Hanna, creator of the loved and reviled character Pomeroy and previous organizer of Open Mic, returned to share his wisdom on "Ten Writing Traps and How to Keep Out of Them." Here are highlights.

  1. Writers typically send out their short stories too soon. Often, they are about three drafts short of bringing their story to its fullest potential. Editors are frequently wrong. Don't take bad advice. Call Me Pomeroy would never have become a book if I took the advice of certain editors. 
  2. The writer's characters lack dimension. Solution: Create dichotomy in the characters. If a character has contradictions, he becomes much more interesting.
  3. The writer produces beautiful writing but story lacks tension and goes nowhere. Solution: Make sure the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. There are exceptions to this one, of course.
  4. The writer spends too much time "stage setting" at the beginning of the story, which can cause the reader to lose interest. Solution: Start the story with some action and fill in the back-story later.
  5. The writer is married to stilted language. Solution: Tighten and simplify the language.
  6. The writer's sentences sag because they are overloaded with clauses. Solution: Prune unnecessary clauses or break up the sentences.
  7. The writer feels he has to explain the story to the reader. Solution: Show the reader what is happening, don't tell him.
  8. The writer uses weak verbs with lazy adverbs instead of seeking more dynamic sentences. Solution: Fewer adverbs, stronger verbs, and similes; e.g. "The soldiers were scared but stood bravely." (Weak) "The soldiers stood like men tied to stakes." (Better.) 
  9. The writer makes excessive use of the passive voice. Solution: Make sure the subject of a sentence is acting rather than being acted upon; e.g. "The ball was thrown by John." (Weak.) "John threw the ball." (Better.)
  10. The writer inadvertently mixes the verb tenses.
Jim offered these resources: 
Meeting Survey
If you'd like to give feedback on this or any other speaker, or give suggestions for future speakers, please fill out our quick survey.

Audrey Kalman
Member News

Our published members participated in the Barnes & Noble Local Author Day, Sunday June 3, 2018, at the San Mateo store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center.

We created excitement, read and sold books, and made connections. Pictured here: Carole Bumpus, Audrey Kalman, Laurel Anne Hill, Elise Miller.

Plans are in the works for another Author Day in December, 2018. Stay tuned for more details!

Once again,  the CWC Literary Stage at the San Mateo County Fair 
 was crowded with talent during panels, readings, interviews and music. 

. Congratulations Everybody!

Embracing True Love at Pen to Published

Do you embrace your sweetheart in public?

Novelists, who want their true love in the public eye, do.
I'm all my romance novel has when it comes to getting her off my screen and out in the world. I need to be my novel's ideal love interest,  a communicator who knows her job, and thinks for herself. I also need a sense of humor.
At the Pen to Published CWC Redwood Writer's Conference I set out to be the best true love I could be.  My darling needs me to be an independent thinker - and publisher. 

Author and industry editor Brooke Warner said, "Traditional publishing caters to the one percent. Those one percent are celebrities."  The publishing community is eliminating old school attitudes towards independent (indie) publishing.  Let's get our high-quality publications* out there.
My beloved needs me to tell her story skillfully. To make her look good I need to have a defined sense of her genre, build a solid story structure, edit well, and take notes from others.  To further enhance her good looks I need to experiment with craft tools like point-of-view, dialog, and the ever-elusive grab-them-on-page-one.
At Pen to Published I worked on Flash Fiction writing. That craft-work is helping me whittle down my beloved novel.  I can't afford to hide my Sweetheart's light under a bushel. She needs me to be a communicator who builds a community of readers and stays in touch with them.
At Pen to Published people talked about gimmicks. My gimmick is time portals. I learned that Facebook attracts an older audience and Twitter a younger one. 
And I'm committed to taking my sweetheart on a digital tour once I finish her.
Fun loving? Ellen Sandler, producer of 'Everybody Loves Raymond', gave us all permission to (start out) writing badly.
My sweetie says I have no problem with that.  Communicating blogger and speaker, crafty writer, and indie publisher. Stir in a dash of fun.  Aren't I the ideal true love?

Laurel Shimer
"Writers Helping Writers"
Monthly Member-Led Community Writers Groups

Wednesday, July 18, 2018  7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
We meet the third Wednesday of the month to encourage new and experienced writers, hone our teaching skills, sell our books, and help more people to learn about our fabulous club. 

Many of you have expressed interest in joining Critique Groups. Be sure to stop by the third Wednesday of July to benefit from Carole Bumpus's wisdom and experience on this subject as she presents Part II of the Art of Critique

All are welcome. 


The Louise Boggess Award

In 1996, our branch of the CWC instituted the Louise Boggess Award in honor of our founder.

This annual award is given to the member who has performed the most valuable services to the branch in the preceding year. 

This year we were pleased to honor Bette Houtchens at the June meeting!

Bette joined the California Writers Club in 2012 and quickly became active, offering her expertise in many areas. She served as our Parliamentarian for three years, joined the Venue Committee when we needed to find a new location for our meetings, and created surveys to poll the membership on preferences.

She later took on the role of Membership Chair where she spent many hours rethinking and revamping our systems. But she didn't stop there. She used her business background to implement tools to help organize our board meetings and retreats, and got us set up on Google docs so we didn't have to continue into the new millennium with bulky crates filled with paper binders to track our documents and club history.

And when it was time to turn over some of these tasks to the next set of volunteers - because yes, it took multiple people to replace her-she took the time to transition them in and have several training meetings as necessary to make sure our branch was in good hands.

Bette's nomination was put forward by Darlene Frank, our esteemed 2017 recipient, and she was enthusiastically approved by the board in recognition of her outstanding service and commitment to the club in her roles on the board over the past four years as Membership Chair, Parliamentarian, Google docs and Organization Expert, Mentor, and Member-at-Large. 
When Bette was notified about the award, she said "I'm grateful for having had  the opportunity to serve, as a small way of paying forward the writers who have helped me keep on keeping on."
Her name was engraved on the Louise Boggess plaque and we also presented her with a special pen, a bar of dark chocolate, and cake for all.

Congratulations to Bette, and many thanks from the CWC SF Peninsula Branch!

-Lisa Meltzer Penn

I've Got Writer's Block

Writers Block! I've Got Writer's Block!
What on earth should I do?
- It would be nice
- If I could give you advice
- But I'm in the same boat as you!
So you have Writer's Block...
When I think of what
We call Writer's Block
I think of a key
Stuck deep in a lock.
The more you jiggle it -
The more you persist -
It's for certain that
It's going to resist.
My advice to you For 2 cents plain 
Let it all go!  CLEAR YOUR BRAIN!
Take a break
Listen to rock
Better yet -
Listen to Bach
Work a puzzle
Knit a sweater
Tomorrow, for sure
Things will be better.

Ida J. Lewenstein
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

Look below for Writer's Conferences, Volunteer Opportunities and Upcoming Events, Wants and Needs. Let's promote our club and boost your career. 

Reviews Wanted for YA Horror Release
Chris Knoblaugh is looking for additional reviewers for Tribute, Book 1 of The Cleaners Series. Set in 2005 San Jose, this horror story centers around a paranormal possession. His students have been enjoying it, but he is interested in seeing more adult feedback to help him target his marketing efforts this fall. 
If you are interested in helping, please email Chris Knoblaugh directly at

Volunteer Positions with SF PENINSULA Branch

Thank you, Jeannine Gerkman and Maurine Killough, for stepping up to co-moderate our Open Mic!, We have moved to our new home at the San Carlos Library in a space called "The Spot." Starting in August, we will be there the first Wednesday evening of each month. (No Open Mic in July because of Independence Day.) Please contact Lisa Meltzer Penn if you are interested in joining Jeannine and Maurine's team to help co-host and represent our club in the community. They would love to show you how it's done! Lisa's email address is .
Critique Groups

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.

By popular demand, our branch is helping to facilitate the formation of critique groups, along with distributing information about best practices in running a group.

If you are a member looking to join a critique group, add to your current one, or you just want to try something new; click on the link below and fill out the form to get more information about upcoming events.  CWC SF Peninsula Critique Groups
Even if you signed up on an earlier list, please sign up again here, so we have everything together with complete information. Thank you.



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
Publicity Chair: Bill Baynes 
Newsletter Editor: Jeannine Gerkman 
SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Bardi Rosman Koodrin 
Fault Zone Editor-in-C hief: Laurel Anne Hill  
Non-Voting Positions:
Immediate Past President & Volunteer Coordinator: Carole Bumpus
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 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