President's Message
March, 2019

Last month I talked about "Lonely Writers Syndrome." This month I'd like to point out some of the many community partnerships we have been building and you will see we are in this together: Libraries, Barnes & Noble, Shut Up & Write, San Mateo County Fair, San Mateo County Poet Laureate, Sand Hill Review Press-who publishes our Fault Zone anthologies, and the Sequoia Yacht Club-who rents us a room with a view!
This month I'd like to shine a spotlight on the San Mateo County Fair, which runs June 8-16.

The annual CWC Literary Stage at the San Mateo County Fair has become one of our branch's signature activities. You'll find instructions below about entering the literary contests (Deadline to submit is April 1!) Imagine all those fluttering blue and red and white prize ribbons. (Also we're so excited about our all-day workshop March 2nd to help generate work for submission!)

And it's time to start filling the stage schedule with literary voices. Each year we put on an event within the event, a fair within the fair, a joyful writers conference that burns bright for eight days with speakers, panels, workshops, readings, topics on a multitude of genres of writing, and this year, wrapping it all up the final day, we're hosting a big, grand Writers Block Party. As the last day of the Literary Stage falls on the same day as our monthly meeting, we've decided to really join the party and move our June meeting to the fair. This way you won't have to try to run from one to the other. Club members will get special access to the Literary Stage on Saturday, June 15 at 10am, an hour before the fair opens to the public. Look for details and VIP tickets as we get closer. The Writers Block Party will feature special guest speakers and hands-on writing activities along with an opportunity to share writing from the day, and of course have a lot of fun. Invite your friends to join in! Note that this will be an extended event, longer than the usual meeting, so plan to spend as much of the day as you can at the fair.

You can also find information below about presenting a program in one of the Literary Stage time slots during the rest of the week.

Happy Writing,

Lisa Meltzer Penn
March 2019 Highlights:
  1. President's Message - Lisa Meltzer Penn
  2. Full Day Workshop with Elizabeth Stark: "Find Your Characters and Follow Them Into Danger" coming up Saturday, March 2, 2019 sponsored by CWC SF Peninsula - Last Chance for Tickets
  3. CWC Literary Stage
  4. Speaker: Geri Spieler - Reluctant Author to Movie Deal
  5. Think Tank: Laurel Anne Hill - Book Promotion
  6. New Member Gathering - March 24
  7. February speaker highlights
  8. Member News
  9. "Writers Helping Writers" Workshop Leaders Needed
  10. Presenters Needed for the Literary Stage
  11. NORCAL CWC News
  12. Upcoming Writers Conferences

Workshop happening tomorrow - still time to register!
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).

CWC Literary Stage at the 2019 SAN MATEO COUNTY FAIR: JUNE 8-16

Literary Arts Entry Deadline
Monday, April 1st (11:59PM)
The CWC SF Peninsula Branch, in partnership with the San Mateo County Fair, invite all writers to participate in this year's contests. Don't wait to enter your Short Story, Essay, Memoir, Poetry or other Sponsored Contests.
Please read all rules (state & local) and follow entry instructions carefully. Entry fees are non-refundable. If you feel you've made an error, stop. Contact the Fair's Exhibit Supervisor ( ). Do not double pay for entries!
For full details visit the Literary Arts website at:

March 16, 2019 
Speaker: Geri Spieler
Topic: From Reluctant Author to Movie Deal-How Did I Get Here?

Geri Spieler, the award-winning author of  Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford, will tell the behind-the-scenes story of her journey from reluctant author to recipient of a movie deal.

In 1975, Sara Jane Moore fired a shot at President Gerald Ford, and missed his head by a mere six inches. The first woman to ever fire a bullet at an American president, Sara Jane had built a life for herself that is both profoundly disquieting and complicated. Investigative journalist and award-winning speaker Geri Spieler established a professional relationship with Sara Jane Moore that lasted for thirty years. She capitalized on this unique access to her enigmatic subject to write Taking Aim at the President, which has been optioned for a movie by award-winning screenwriters Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen. Spieler will talk about the process of publishing the book and eventually getting a movie deal. 

Geri Spieler is a full-time freelance writer in Silicon Valley whose work has appeared in the  Los Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, and  Forbes. She has been a signature blogger for the  Huffington Post, a research director for Gartner Group, and an editor of two publications at Philips Publishing in Washington, D.C. She is a regular contributor to, an investigative reporting company. Find out more about her at .

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

Think Tank

March 16, 2019  
Moderator: Laurel Anne Hill
Presentation: Book Promotion

All right, you've accomplished your goal: Your book is scheduled for publication. Congratulations! Yet, a new dilemma takes shape upon the horizon: BOOK PROMOTION. What should you be doing now, at publication and afterward to maximize name/title recognition and book sales? And what should you have been doing for the past five years? 

Award-winning author Laurel Anne Hill will lead a discussion about what might work and what might not in this ever-changing world of "pushing one's book."

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

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


2nd Wednesday in  San Mateo
Topic: Book Promotion
Moderator: Laurel Anne Hill
March 13, 2019,   7:00 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.


3rd Wednesday  in  San Carlos
Topic:  All About Editing
Moderator: Lisa Meltzer Penn and Audrey Kalman
March 20, 2019,  7:00 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.

Writers Helping Writers

April 10, 2019 - San Mateo
Moderator: Melanie Shook
Topic: Using the Story Grid to Edit Your Novel

April 17, 2019 - San Carlos
Topic: TBD
Moderators: TBD

March 16, 2019

10:00 a.m. to noon 
Speaker: Geri Spieler
Topic: From Reluctant Author to Movie Deal

noon to 1:00 p.m.
Think Tank Moderator: Laurel Anne Hill
Topic: Book Promotion

Monthly Meeting 
3rd Saturday of each month

April 20, 2019
Speaker: Becky Parker Geist
Topic: Audiobook Options for Authors

May 18, 2019

June 15, 2019 - NEW!
Special Meeting & Writers Block Party at the Literary Stage at the Fair!

July 13, 2019 - Summer Picnic at Twin Pines Lodge

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

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 
March 26, 2019

Open Mic
4th Tuesday of each month

April 23, 2019

May 28, 2019

March 2, 2019
Full Day Writing Workshop:
Find Your Characters and Follow Them Into Danger

Last Chance for Tickets!
$25 discount for CWC members 
(use code CWCMember when registering)

March 24, 2019
New Member Gathering
2:00-4:00 p.m.
Register Here

New Member Gathering - March 24

Exciting news for all new members! We've had an influx of new members joining our branch over the past six months. We want to make sure that, if you're a new member, you have the information you need to take full advantage of your membership. 
If you're a new member, you'll soon receive an email inviting you to attend the New Member Gathering, Sunday, March 24, 2:00-4:00 p.m., in Redwood Shores (exact address to be supplied with your application to attend). Refreshments will be served. Come for some fun and helpful information. Space is limited -- don't hesitate to apply!
Why attend? We'll provide all kinds of information and tips such as how to find, join, or start a writing critique group, how to identify other writers in your genre, how to find resources you need and much, much more! You'll get to know your cohort of new members better, learn what everyone is working on, and find out how to take full advantage of your membership. 

Tim Flood
Membership Chair

Sunday, March 24, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Refreshments will be served.
Address will be provided after you register.

Contact Tim Flood, Membership Chair, with any questions at

February Speaker Highlights

Writer and teacher Jane Anne Staw used her own experience as a "mightily blocked writer" to understand what other writers go through when they feel anxious about approaching the blank page, and to help them overcome their fears. For many, the fraught relationship with the page begins with an early psychological wound. For her, it was her father's brief comment after reading her college essay. "This will never do," he said. By the time she got to college, writing-which she had always loved-had become tremendously difficult.

Much later, after majoring in (and writing easily in) French, she began becoming unblocked when she wrote poetry. Why? Because poetry is small the stakes are lower; you aren't expected to know the entire plot. You just take it one line, one word at a time. She began to translate this into an approach to writing, and eventually to coaching others, that involves the following things. 
  1. Think small. One word, one sentence, one paragraph.
  2. Create a regular writing time. It doesn't matter when, but make it the same time every day. It also doesn't have to be long. She knew someone who wrote a whole novel by writing for five minutes a day.
  3. Remember that writing is a process. You're not responsible for every aspect of the writing every minute that you're writing. The first time you write, you're only responsible for getting words on the page. Editing, fixing, and refining come later.
  4. Keep the critics away from the page. When you're writing, it should be just you and the page. Make a small emotional writing universe. Don't allow in your father, husband, sister, or third-grade writing teacher.
  5. Create a writing savings account. When you're struggling, it's hard to notice what's going well and what's pleasurable. Take note of those things-the 15 minutes when you're in the flow, when the right word comes instantly, when you feel great as you're writing. Then go back to revisit those when things aren't going so well.
  6. Think of yourself as a writer. Publishing doesn't determine whether you're a writer or not. As Jane Anne learned when she attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, "You're a writer if you're happiest when you're writing."
She finished by reminding everyone that a writer's relationship with the page "should be the most exquisite relationship in your life. The blank page can become a beautiful invitation."

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

Geri Spieler has had two articles published at The first is on violence against women with developmental disabilities. You can view it at 

The second article focuses on e-scooter chaos around the country. Read it at 

 Would you like to see your news published here? Send your submissions to by the 23rd of the month with the subject line "CWC Newsletter Submissions."


"Writers Helping Writers" Workshop Leaders Wanted
Come out and share your expertise with beginning writers at our monthly 'Writers Helping Writers' classes. Our SF Peninsula CWC offers free writing classes each month at two libraries on craft, and any other area of interest to new writers.

So far, we have been able to fill the months of 'teachers' for the past year, but we still have openings for the months of April (17th); May (15th) and June (19th) at the San Carlos Library. San Mateo Library is scheduled through May (8th).

If you have creative talent you have honed through your writing career, please volunteer to share your expertise. Contact Carole Bumpus at

Care to Share at the Fair - Presenters Needed

The Literary Stage needs presenters to carry our theme of Writers Helping Writers during the run of the Fair. Solos, duos or panels are invited to share their expertise on their favorite writing topics. Examples:

"Writers Groups - What works... what doesn't!"
"Essay, Memoir, Narrative Non-Fiction - How to Tell What You've Written"
"A Writer of Sorts - A pep talk for self-doubting beginners from a veteran beginner."
Please contact Laurel Anne Hill, Literary Stage Manager ( to participate.

NORCAL CWC Branch News

Wondering what this NorCal Group is? We are a board formed by members from the fourteen Northern California CWC branches. We meet four times per year to enable our branches to have more voice on the State Board level and to help to connect the needs and interests of the branches as we bring new ideas/solutions to you.

San Francisco Writers Conference 2019 - For the seventh year in a row, the NorCal CWC Group hosted a booth representing the entire state CWC organizatio all to bring awareness to our Club and to our goals of 'writers helping writers'. If you were not able to make this year's event, or to volunteer for the booth, you missed out on a great opportunity to meet and greet fellow writers from across the country and state, along with rubbing elbows with editors, agents, publishers, and other celebrated authors, oh my! To those who volunteered to help out, thank you! We appreciate each and every one of you.

As you may know, one of our CWC members from North State-Chico Branch, Brian Marshall, was the winner of the $850 free registration from Smashwords. Brian, who had, unfortunately, just lost his home in the Paradise fire, was very grateful to have this opportunity to further his writing career. He wrote to me, stating:
" . . . my poor brain was crammed with so much information I can't imagine being able to process another full day. And I even walked away with a few nibbles from some of the agents at the Speed Pitch sessions! We're having our general membership meeting tonight, and I plan on using my experience to tout all the benefits - unforeseen or not - of joining the CWC."

Some of you authors (also from around the State) were celebrated by having the book covers of your most recently published books featured on our tri-fold display. Our thanks go out to our own Mindy Yang for painstakingly putting the poster together. And to Tim Flood, who worked the booth, and showed off CWC.

Building Better Branches Leadership Conference 2018 - This conference, which was held last September by the NorCal Group for board members of our 14 branches, continues to reverberate with fresh new ideas for the branches. We heard you and we have taken many of your suggestions to the State Board to let them know of branch concerns and interests. Because of that outreach, a task force has been formed to find a replacement system for our old MRMS (the state-wide data base for the entire CWC organization). We have also started putting a program together to share our speakers across the branches along with a better way to share our branch events and conferences. One other thing that hopefully will come to fruition is to have an annual training class for incoming new branch presidents and membership chairs so they can have the ability to do their jobs well from the 'get-go'! That's just a start.

BAY AREA BOOK FESTIVAL - (BABF) - Berkeley - May 4th and 5th - We will once again participate in this book festival and we encourage you to help out/volunteer for this booth, or to come meet fellow authors and writers from all over the Bay Area. Stay tuned. More to come.

Carole Bumpus, Co-Chair - NORCAL GROUP BOARD - February 2019

Upcoming Writers Conferences

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

Pitch-O-Rama Saturday March 23, 2019
Meet agents and editors at this Women's National Book Association (WNBA) event.  For more information go to  the WNBA website.

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

Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) May 4-5, 2019, Berkeley
Get a sneak peak here. The full details (and ticket links) will be shared on BABF Website March 15.

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: Melanie Shook 
Newsletter Editor: Melanie Shook 
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
Acting SMCF Literary Stage Coordinator: Sue Barizon 

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