President's Message
MARCH 2017

First of all, I would like to thank those members of our San Francisco Peninsula Branch who participated in this year's San Francisco Writers Conference, held February 17-19.  For the fourth year in a row, we have been the "host" branch for the statewide California Writers Club booth, and our branch provided the most member volunteers for this endeavor.  

My thanks go to  Lisa Meltzer-Penn, Margaret Nalbach, Jeannine Gerkman, Apala Egan,  and  Eva Barrows who were there to assist. It was windy, raining cats and dogs, Nob Hill could not have been steeper ... and yet these stalwart souls made it to the top at Mark Hopkins and put our CWC face in front of writers, agents, publishers, and vendors from across California and the United States.
One of the jobs at the booth is to hand out brochures, pamphlets, and flyers for any/all state CWC branches and sign up interested attendees. Not only does this give a better idea of what our club does, but shows where our branches are located throughout the State. And thanks to our own  Kirsten Weiss , we were able to feature our newly-designed brochure just hot off the press. Thank you so very much.
I don't know about you, but I am hearing that the energy in our club is continuing to build. And, that is thrilling! That comes back to you!  And to our volunteers! It is so exciting to have so many new members helping out. In fact, to welcome our new members and continue the momentum of gathering volunteers, I will be hosting the first of two "New Member Get-Togethers" in my home in  April.   Stay tuned. It will be an informal way to meet others and  find out more about the Club.
I also want to thank you for continuing to give us great feedback and, believe me, your ideas and constructive critiques are being taken into account. At this past meeting, some of you added your talents to our list of resources--for publishing, editing, coaching, etc. This information will be put on our website, under the Writers' Corner and then under the  Writing Services tab . I do believe there are criteria and a few steps to follow, so we will be getting back to you.
While you are browsing through the website, take a look at our  Membership tab . If you do not have your picture and bio posted or updated, please follow the instructions on the Member page for sending your bio and photo to our website guru,  Pratibha Kelapure
Also, member Ida Lewenstein gave us a great idea. She suggested putting Want Ads in the  newsletter. She is interested in finding a cartoonist, and another person is interested in finding a critique group ... so our talented newsletter editor, Jeannine Gerkman, suggested this: "I could add a "Want Ad" section for members actively looking for a specific service. Members could submit brief requests, similar to the way they submit articles or news. Requester requirements could include: "What is needed, When is it needed, Time Duration of the need, Amount requester is willing to pay, Who is asking, How to contact the requester, etc." Look for this in future newsletters.       

--Carole Bumpus, SF Peninsula Branch President

March 18, 2017
Guest Speaker: Teresa LeYung-Ryan
Use Your Name and Your Themes to Advance Your Writer's Platform-Building Journey 

Join Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan in this interactive presentation to identify your core themes and create your writer's platform statement BEFORE and AFTER publication--whether you are pitching to agents and publishers or choosing to self-publish--whether you write fiction or nonfiction.

* What is a "Platform" really?
* Why do you need one before pitching to agents, acquisition editors, booksellers or the media?
* Who can help you broadcast yours?

Coach Teresa says: "Reach out, not stress out. When you make your name synonymous with themes you are passionate about, you attract attention from people who can advance your platform-building journey (before and after publication) and you gain more time to write your next project."

BIO: Through her coaching services and her workbook, Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan teaches her clients how to identify their themes and create scripts for pitches, query letters, press releases, talking-points, one-minute videos, photo slideshows, and the all-mighty blog. She is the author of Build Your Writer's Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW. Her novel Love Made of Heart (a mother-daughter love story) is used in colleges, recommended by the California School Library Association and the California Reading Association, and is archived at the San Francisco History Center. The first monologue in her "Talking To My Dead Mom" series received an award from Redwood Writers. Coach Teresa says: "Reach out, not stress out!" Please visit and click on Coach Teresa's Blog.

Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
California Writers Club
Sequoia Yacht Club
441 Seaport Court
Redwood City
FREE to first-timers. $10 members. $15 nonmembers.  
$10 students with ID. 
CWC SF Peninsula Calendar

Wednesday, March 15 - Open Mic 
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Bring your poems, prose, and stories to  Reach & Teach
144 W. 25th Avenue, San Mateo. FREE


Saturday, March 18
10 a.m. Author and Coach Teresa LeYung- Ryan presents: 

Use Your Name and Your Themes to Advance Your Writer's Platform-Building Journey   

Saturday, March 18 - Think Tank
FREE. MEMBERS ONLY. Immediately after the March program,  Audrey Kalman will present  "Think Tank: Blockbusters."  There are many kinds of blocks--road blocks, mental blocks, building blocks--but few as distressing as writer's block. Do you struggle with the tyranny of the blank page? Wonder how you're ever going to start your writing project? Or wrestle with prioritizing the thousand great ideas that spring to mind at 1 a.m.? Come for moral support and to share the tips and tricks that shake you loose and get you writing again. Maximum of 10 participants.

Upcoming Meetings

April 19, 2017 - Open Mic 
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Open Mic at  Reach & Teach 
144 W. 25th Avenue, San Mateo. FREE

April 15, 2017 - Speaker - Ransom Stephens
Ransom Stephens, Ph.D., is a scientist, science writer, and novelist. He's written hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from neuroscience to quantum physics to parenting teenagers. His topic is:
Get Inside Your Reader's Brain: 
The neuroscience of how to make readers laugh and cry 

Ransom will explore the roots of what people like and why bestsellers aren't always critical favorites.

April 15, 2017 - Think Tank
FREE. MEMBERS ONLY. Immediately after the April program, Jac Fitzenz will present  "The Five Principles of Nonfiction: How to design and write non-fiction that sells and endures." Think Tank will focus on detail and color. .  
Maximum of 10 participants.

  SF Peninsula Branch meets at:

441 Seaport Court
Redwood City 
$10 members. $15 nonmembers.
$10 students with ID.
February Program Recap:
Stoke Your Creative Fire 
by Audrey Kalman,  VP/Speakers

On February 18, 2017, Susan Osborn presented "Stoke Your Creative Fire." She left members with lots of interesting ideas for how to get the creative juices flowing. We started with a brainstorming exercise to think of as many ways as we could to get to the top of a tree without climbing it. Members came up with everything from "Drop down in a hot air balloon" to "Sit on an acorn and wait for it to grow." Susan's point was that there's no right or wrong answer, but often simply asking "what if?" frees your imagination to begin creating. 

In her next exercise, we all held lengths of yarn with washers tied to the end. We first imagined the washers moving vertically, then horizontally. Many of us saw the movement we imagined. Susan reminded us that being in a state of relaxation is important for getting creative. 

Finally, she encouraged everyone to experiment with different forms of writing and presented a list of forms. For reference, here are the works she cited in her talk:

Anthology: CWC Literary Review  - collection of short stories & poems  
Booklet: Tropic Rhapsodies  (60 pp.); Eyes on the Prize (22 pp.) - Jack Ohman 
Graphic fiction (cartoons): Troublemaker - Janet Evanovich & Alex Evanovich 
Graphic memoir: Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? - Roz Chast
Graphic nonfiction: (Richard) Feynman - Jim Ottaviani & Leland Myrick 
Miniature, small book:  Witty Women, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories
Chapbook: hsin hsin ming (Chinese verses on faith -8 pp.); A Child's Christmas in Wales - Dylan Thomas (1954; 30 pp.)
Serial: The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County - Cyra McFadden (1976) 
Vignettes: Kitchen Table Wisdom - Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D
Writing in Tandem: Naked Came the Stranger - Penelope Ashe (1969)
Hybrid (cross-genre fertilization):
  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - T.S. Eliot (poems & artwork)
  • Funniest Verses of Ogden Nash (poems & artwork)
  • The Forest of Love - Jack Palance (poems & artwork)
  • Girl Interrupted (1993)- Susanna Kaysen - memoir; novel; historical account with actual clinical documentation
  • I Love Dick - Chris Kraus - novel/confessional memoir
  • Carrie - Stephen King - novel containing case records, court testimony, death certificate, and quotations from letters, articles, texts, scientific journals, AP wire service, diary entries, and books written by characters
  • Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel - novel containing fables; romance; tragedy; magic realism; recipes; home remedies
  • Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence - Nick Bantock 
  • Multi-media novel; romance, mystery, work of art; each page contains new card or letter
  • Law of Love - Laura Esquivel - Multi-media novel. Music is integrated using compact disc of Puccini arias and Mexican danzones.
  • Lovers & Comrades - Rob Osborn - historical fiction re: John Service (foreign service officer WW II) - contains interior monologue, dialogue, letters, fables, vignettes, diary entries, court testimony, press releases
  • Awful Bosses Coloring Book - self-help guide, memoir, & adult crafts workbook containing graphics, poetry, & wellness tips (one of Susan's books)
  • The System Made Me Do It! A Life Changing Approach to Office Politics - contains quasi-autobiographical story & vignettes, dialogue, graphics, personal & organizational evaluation scales, & n/f text re: how to cope with and change highly-charged political organizations. (Another of Susan's books; one of the editors: Darlene Frank.)
  • Grand master of form: The prolific Portuguese writer, Fernando Pessoa (Pess-OH-a), used a combination of over 20 forms of writing to express his views. He wrote under his own name and 75 others which he created in order to convey their independent perspectives. Each name possessed a distinct biography, temperament, philosophy, appearance, writing style, and signature
San Mateo Critique Group

2nd and 4th Friday each month, 10:30 to noon.
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.

The 2017 San Mateo County Fair: There's Something for Everyone to Do!

Enter the literary contests: Don't wait until the deadline of Monday, April 3rd at 11:59 pm (Pacific standard time). Sooner rather than later is always best. We have a number of contests; the entry fee is $10 per submission (no limit) and you could win $100. All winners will be published in our annual Carry the Light anthology, published by Sand Hill Review Press.

Become a contest judge: If you've never done it before, we'll teach you. It's a great skill to add to your bio, plus it's fun. We'll have committees so you won't feel stressed. Don't worry if you want to judge and enter some contests, we'll make sure that no judge or his/her family member will be compromised.

Volunteer before and/or during the fair:  Since we began in 2009, we've hosted over 150 free literary workshops, author presentations and readings over the 8-day run of each fair, so you can imagine the time and care that goes into them. Who says it takes a village? It really takes two villages and we'd love to count you among us. Throughout the fair we welcome presenters, readers, literary department docents, audience participants, and event flyer passer-outers. Want to work from home? Are you a wiz at social media? Do you like interacting with contestants? Or help Bardi stay organized? No problem. Just let us know where you see yourself fitting in. 
Don't forget: The San Francisco Peninsula Writers will raffle a free one-year membership worth $160. Anyone who volunteers at least 3 hours will earn one raffle ticket; no limit to the number of shifts you can put in. The raffle will take place at 2:00 pm on Saturday, June 17th. 
For more info : Contact Bardi Rosman Koodrin
Bardi Rosman Koodrin
Literary Director for the San Mateo County Fair                                                                                         
Think Tank
Ann Foster hosted February's discussion with exercises based on practical suggestions from Jan Burroway's Writing Fiction

The March 18 Think Tank will be hosted by Audrey Kalman and will be about "Blockbusters." Come for moral support and to share tips and tricks that helped shake you loose from your writing block. This should be a lively discussion! See the full description under the CWC Calendar.  
There is a MAXIMUM OF 10 PARTICIPANTS, so sign up early.

Member News
Megan Clancy's unpublished manuscript, chhorihas been shortlisted for the Somerset Book Awards, a division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards! The winner will be annou nced at the Chanticleer Authors Conference in Washington this April. Her website is 

Doctor Jac Fitzenz's second novel in the Mike and Grace Novel series, titled Spies with Benefits, is ready for CreateSpace. With luck and no flood, Jac expects to have hard copies by the end of February 2017.

David Hirzel is pleased to announce the publication of his latest book, When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision-Making Lessons from the Antarctic . Co-written with Brad Borkan (London), this book uses epic true stories from the "heroic age" of Antarctic exploration to place the reader in those life and death situations and asks "How would you have responded?"  
Filled with compelling lessons in teamwork, leadership, camaraderie, and sheer grit a nd determination that are as useful today as they were 100 years ago, this book reveals methods that you can immediately put to use in your personal and business life. What decisions would you make if your life depended on it?
From Terra Nova Press. Available on 
International book tour scheduled for May 2017.
Congratulations, everyone!

Submission Opportunities

39th Nimrod Literary Awards is accepting submissions January 1 to April 30, 2017  for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Nimrod submissions.   

Imitation Fruit Literary Journal, an annual online publication, is looking for fun and upbeat short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, and artwork. Send up to 5 poems or 15 pages of prose. Submission deadline is April 1st of each year and publication is in late Fall. For more information, please see the submissions page at 


Local Events
California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch is pleased to announce its second full-day writers conference featuring keynote speaker, New York Times and international bestselling author,  Anne Perry. This conference will be held on  Saturday, April 22, 2017, 
7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
Ms. Perry is the author of over fifty novels which have sold over 25 million copies. This is a great way to network with authors, marketers, and innovators who share a passion for writing.  Other presenters include  Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, Victoria Zackheim, Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, Mark Gelineau, Joe King, Linda Lee, Joel Friedlander, David Denny, Jim Azevedo of Smashwords, Bruce Raine, Larry Townsend, and Annie Tucker.

California Writers Club Marin Branch 
is offering a one-day workshop at Book Passage on April 2, 2017 called "The Writer's Life." Cost: $125. The flyer states: "TEN EXPERTS. ONE DAY. A COMMUNITY OF WRITERS. PITCH AGENTS * IMPROVE YOUR CRAFT * MARKET YOUR WORK * PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS" 
Interested?  Sign up at: .

Smarter, Wiser, More Creative You  
by Darlene Frank
When you join a writers' club, you might find yourself on an unexpected journey that brings you four huge benefits.
Increased emotional intelligence. Reading the work of published peers, or watching fellow writing group members hold up their latest books and announce good news, captures the attention of vigilant parts of your psyche. Your Inner Critic sidles into place, dressed to the nines to intimidate. "They beat you to the publishing game, my dear. It'll be a long wait for you."   
A friend listens as you recite a litany of your failings compared to these writers. "Do you have amnesia?" she asks. Her response startles you back to reality. The mere appearance of such insecurity invites you to reconsider. This group showcases a phenomenal range of talent, including yours. In that light, each writer becomes your Muse. You're smarter now.
Keys to secret knowledge. Inspired, you decide to read books about the creative process of artists outside the literary world--painters, musicians, architects, dancers. With each book, you enter the private chambers of a wizard. Inside that artist's laboratory of unique concoctions, an alchemical process takes place that returns you to your world of writing, altered by the wizard's sacred space.
Enhanced creative powers. As you immerse in your task of melding language, you pay increasing attention to the details of your daily activities. You realize that you don't need to learn "ten new ways to be creative." You simply need to notice how you are already creating--in thought, word, and action--all day long. As you revel in this expanded awareness, you find yourself becoming artful in ways you never imagined.
Amped-up creative confidence. You commit to a brave writing goal that will  make you more visible. The first time you show your work, you feel shy. The second time, your message and confidence have evolved. The third time, you feel like a different person. Your Inner Critic might still be dressed to the nines, but not to intimidate. This time, she feels much better about herself. And you.
Attention: Joining a writers' club or writing group should come with a warning: Fasten Your Seatbelt--Creative Change Ahead.
© 2017 Darlene Frank is a writer, editor, and Certified Creativity Coach who helps writers create their most powerful work. Her creative nonfiction appears in Fault Zone and other anthologies. You can reach her at An earlier version of
this article appeared in the newsletter of the Creativity Coaching Association.

Writers' Corner on the CWC Website
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.

A new feature of the Writers' Corner is a list of branch members who provide writing-related services for a fee: editing, coaching, and more. Check it out! 
Thanks to Bill Baynes, Carole Bumpus, Darlene Frank, and Pratibha Kelapure, with input from other Board members, for updating and simplifying this page to better serve club members and highlight the uniqueness of our branch.

What Exactly Is Creative Nonfiction?
by Geri Spieler
To begin, let's start with a definition of creative nonfiction:
Creative nonfiction is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Some refer to the genre as literary nonfiction or narrative nonfiction.
My story with the genre began in 2005 when Sara Jane Moore, the middle-aged mother who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in front of the St. Francis hotel in San Francisco in 1975, asked me to write her book. Without going into all the background detail, I had visited and corresponded with her for about 30 years. I had no intention of writing about her at all.
When she posed that question, I was clear: "Absolutely not! I don't write books.They are too difficult and take too long."  
Obviously that changed.  So to back up and explain how I discovered creative nonfiction, here it is. After exhaustive research on the subject matter, which was great fun, to the writing, which was very, very painful, I explored multiple approaches.
My first instinct was to write the book much like a newspaper article. But, it didn't feel like I could fill a whole book written in such a manner. My next thought was to fictionalize it. That option didn't last long. I had (and have) no idea on how to write in a literary fashion.  I was really stuck. 
What was I going to do with five file cabinet drawers of research and make it readable?  That was the moment my "research" skills really paid off: I investigated every genre imaginable to find something that would allow the style to be literary but still maintain the facts. I found "creative nonfiction."
The genre was originally defined by Truman Capote in his famous book, In Cold Blood. Capote referred to it as a "nonfiction novel." Today's champion is Lee Gutkind, who has published several books on the topic, all of which I have consumed. The bottom line: There is no fiction in creative nonfiction. As Gutkind writes, it's "True stories well told." 
Geri Spieler is the 
Author of  Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the  Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford (Macmillan)

Letter from the Editor

Lots of great stuff in this month's newsletter. We've got two very different articles about creativity.  One by Darlene Frank examines how membership in California Writer's Club actually improves your internal psyche and deepens your creativity. 
The other by Geri Spieler defines "creative nonfiction" in a truly satisfying way. One subject, two completely different angles, both beautifully done. Love it!

As you've probably heard, Ida Lewenstein is looking for a cartoonist. She handed in her suggestion slip and drew a cartoon of what she has in mind! Pretty talented that lady.
I encourage everyone to check out the website David Hirzel and his co-author Brad Borkan have designed to launch their new book (the link is in Member News). It is spectacular! Truly amazing. They both recorded audio files and embedded them into the site. Very impressive. 

We are blessed to have so much talent in our midst!

It has been suggested we should have a "Want Ad" section. We'll get the wrinkles ironed out and have one up and running for April's newsletter. Until then, keep writing.

--Jeannine Gerkman, Newsletter Editor

Guidelines for Submitting Articles to This Newsletter  
  Want to see your article published here?
We often have room for one or two short  articles. 
Please follow these guidelines when submitting your piece:
  • You must be a current member of the club.
  • Your article must be related to writing.
  • 350 words maximum. (Please indicate the word count at the top of the article.)
Format requirements:
  • Submit your article in a Word file or in the body of your email.
  • Use Times Roman font, 12 point.
  • Put only one space (not two) at the end of a sentence.
  • Use the Tab key, not the space bar, to indent.
  • Edit and proofread carefully before you submit. If accepted, your article will be printed as submitted.
       Send submissions to: 

Include the words "CWC Newsletter Article"  in your subject line. Deadline is the 25th of the month. Earlier is encouraged! Thank you.
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