San Francisco Peninsula Writer
Writers Helping Writers Since 1909
October 2020 | California Writers Club
Have a Laugh on Us
Way back when this Whole Thing began, I attended a few laughter yoga sessions online. I first heard about this unusual practice years ago from a good friend of my mom’s, who took up yoga of all kinds in her 70s, became a yoga teacher, and practiced until she died in her mid 90s. (She also drank a martini every day, so don’t be too quick to attribute her longevity to her yogic practices.)

The idea behind laughter yoga is that laughter—whether forced or spontaneous—has many physical and emotional benefits. You don’t need a trigger for your laughter. Rather, you can follow the fake-it-till-you-make it school of thought and pretend to laugh, or act like you’re laughing, with just as many benefits.

For some reason, laughter yoga never quite clicked for me, maybe because I was introduced to it on Zoom. I may try it again when we are able to meet in person. In the meantime, I went in pursuit of other things to make myself laugh.

I tried Trevor Noah.

I tried 1970s sitcoms.

As funny as these are, none of them reliably got a laugh. A chuckle, maybe, or a bemused smile, but nothing like what I craved, which was one of those helpless, gasping, choking, belly laughs I remember from childhood. You know, the kind that happens with your best friend on a lazy weekend afternoon, where you quiet yourself down after a few minutes only to erupt once more when you simply glance at one another, or when one of you tries to speak.

I can’t remember the last time I had a laugh like that, but I surely could use one right about now.

The closest I’ve gotten recently is listening to the work of my fellow CWC members at Open Mics. Mickie Winkler, David Strom, and Thomas Crockett come to mind.

Do you write humor? Do you enjoy reading humor? Have you had a good laugh lately? Write and let us know. And, in the meantime, check out some of the many opportunities to hear stories from your fellow writers. There's the new Story Cafe from the San Mateo County Public Library, featuring readings by Fault Zone contributors. And there's our own monthly Open Mic (more on both of these below). I can’t guarantee that they’ll have you spitting your drink across the room, but you may find a moment or two of solace entering into someone else’s world.

Stay safe and happy writing,


P.S. If you want to spread some story magic of your own and you're a branch member, don't forget you still have time to submit to the next edition of our anthology, Fault Zone: Reverse (deadline is December 31, 2020).
Saturday October 17 Meeting - ONLINE

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.


10:00 AM – Mingle in breakout rooms with fellow writers
Breakout rooms open at 10... join when you want.

10:30 AM – Club business

11:00 AM – Speaker presentation
Kevin Fisher Paulson presents
The Gentle Art of Column Writing
(more info below)

12:00 PM – Think Tank
A Little Help From Your Friends 
led by Ellen McBarnette


The Gentle Art of Column Writing

by Kevin Fisher Paulson
What do Ring Lardner, Walter Winchell, Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Jack London, and Kevin Fisher Paulson have in common? The Column.

What do Mark Twain, Herb Caen, Art Hoppe, Armistead Maupin, Jon Carroll, Leah Garchik, and Kevin have in common? The San Francisco Chronicle.

It took a while for Kevin to say, “I’m a columnist for the Chronicle,” without thinking he was bluffing. He didn’t post it on Facebook for two weeks because he thought that the editor didn’t really mean it. But as time went on, he gradually came to understand that he is a thread in the quilted history of the Voice of the West.

Want to be a columnist? Kevin will provide hints and suggestions, as well as a mindset for describing your life in 625 words every week.
Kevin Fisher Paulson
Kevin Fisher-Paulson studied writing at the University of Notre Dame, with continued coursework at the University of Iowa and the University of Oregon. Kevin’s short story Virtue Enough for Miss Grrrl appeared in When Love Lasts Forever, by Pilgrim Press. His poems and short stories have appeared in The Sentinel, Amethyst, RFD, Suburban Wilderness, Oberon and The James White Review. He contributes irregularly to NPR, and his plays and monologues have been produced in the ODC Summerfest, Theater Rhinoceros and the National AIDS Theater Festival. His memoir, A Song for Lost Angels, was a finalist in the Ben Franklin Independent Publishing Awards. His second book is called How We Keep Spinning! Kevin writes a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle. In his spare time, he serves as Captain of the Honor Guard for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, two sons and three rescue dogs. You can visit his website at or follow him on twitter @kipcap1213.

A Little Help From Your Friends

led by Ellen McBarnette
Finding and building peer networks to improve your chances for writing success. How to do it, when to do it, whom to bring in to your circle of chosen helpers and why it works.

Founder of the Beta Readers and Writers Group and The Introvert's Network, Ellen McBarnette has run writers' peer groups since 2014. Formerly resident of NYC and DC, this former legislative advocate and professional storyteller now lives in Hayward.
Demystifying NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
6:30 - 7:30 PM PDT

This is a FREE ONLINE event!

November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever wondered about this activity?

Megan McDonald, a veteran of NaNoWriMo will demystify the event. You'll learn:

  • What IS it even?!
  • When does it take place?
  • How to select a project
  • How to navigate the official website
  • Prep resources

And you'll meet other writers who are participating.

Writers Helping Writers

Presentations as Part of Your Writer's Platform

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

More people are afraid of public speaking than are afraid of spiders, snakes, disease, or death. However, public presentations are a significant portion of your writer's platform. A public presentation on a topic establishes you as knowledgeable about a topic and makes an excellent addition to your writing biography. Join us and learn how to start your path towards adding public speaking to your writer's biography. Writer Mark Dooley coaches writers on the practical aspects of creating and giving a presentation.

This presentation will including how to:

  • use a plan to ease your fears of public speaking
  • make a slide deck that holds your audience's interest
  • create takeaways for your audience
  • choose equipment useful for presenting in person and gadgets useful for presenting online
  • practice your craft

Writers Helping Writers, organized in partnership with California Writers Club-SF Peninsula Branch and the San Mateo Public Library, is held the second Wednesday of the month fall - spring. 

Contact Cynthia McCarthy for the Zoom meeting link.


Author Skills Workshop

It's Alive! - Your Creations

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Cost - $9.99

In October our thoughts turn to apple cider, changing leaves, and the intense mind-destroying shock of Horror.

Join Liz Suggs (Twitter: @elizabethasuggs) for her presentation on writing monsters.

Are your creatures coming off a little lifeless? Let's reanimate them! This presentation will help you create the next Frankenstein, Dracula, or zombie. In this webinar, you will learn:
  • How to create memorable monsters
  • What monster is ideal for your story
  • How to recreate classics
  • What makes a monster believable, relatable, and sympathetic

Pre-registration is required.

We'll follow the discussion with Q&A.

Elizabeth Suggs is a writer, an editor, and a leader in the writing community. She obsessively writes each morning, lunch, and evening. When she’s not writing, she’s leading a group of writers through bi-weekly workshops on feedback and focused writing. She believes these meetings help writers understand themselves in the world and better prepare them for major publishers.

CWC San Francisco Peninsula chapter is launching a new workshop series designed to provide information about the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing from professionals in the field. In keeping with current cautions about COVID-19, these workshops will be held ONLINE and are open to members and non-members alike.
Open Mic is Back - Join Us Online

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
7-9 PM PDT
Join us for an evening of informal readings from a variety of authors and poets.

If you’d like to enjoy the evening as an audience member, great! All are welcome! Your support is greatly appreciated.

We will sign up readers on a first-come/first-serve basis through the Zoom chat function, so please come on time if you’d like to read. Those wishing to read should come prepared to read for 5-8 minutes, depending on the number of participants.

As a courtesy to others, we will stop you at the allotted time to allow everyone the chance to read. If you have any questions, please email

Looking forward to hearing the voices of all the wonderful writers out there!

This is a FREE online event

Recurring Events - NOW ONLINE
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 (look for Shut Up & Write/CWC SF Peninsula). For now, we're doing this virtually... an hour and a half of writing after a half hour of check-in and chat. RSVP via MeetUp to receive the link to join.

Every Tuesday, 9:30 - 11:30 AM
Every Thursday, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Story Café is LIVE!

A partnership project with the San Mateo County Library
We’re thrilled to announce the launch of San Mateo County Library’s virtual Story Café (part of their Between the Lines offering).

If you're a fan of National Public Radio's Selected Shorts, you'll love this locally-inspired version where talented Bay Area storytellers share their best work. And guess where the library looked for local authors??? The Fault Zone anthology series from the SF Peninsula branch of the CWC!

Check out current stories to see for yourself, and check back weekly for new ones.

We need more stories! 

If you have a published piece in any of our Fault Zone anthologies and can make a 7-10 minute video of yourself reading from your story or poem, you are invited to join the line-up.

You will need to submit an MP3 video file along with a short bio and story tagline. Contact Lisa Meltzer Penn for specific guidelines and best practices.

And a big thank you to the San Mateo County Library for showcasing local authors and coming up with innovative programming in this time of Covid-19.
CWC Bulletin Help Wanted!

The statewide California Writers Club has an excellent publication that is produced three times a year - the CWC newsletter called The Bulletin.

This high quality document is, surprisingly, produced by just one person: Editor in-Chief Rusty LaGrange. Readers who inquire are sometimes amazed that she has no “staff” and does this all by herself.

The CWC is appealing to our statewide membership for a volunteer to help in the production of this Bulletin. Duties would include:

  • Accepting branch submissions of Bulletin articles and photos, and acknowledging receipt;
  • Collection and collation of all articles;
  • Tracking submissions by branch and reporting same;
  • File transfer of all submissions and follow-up conversations with Rusty.

Total time is estimated to be four to eight hours per edition, which is three times per year.

Anyone willing and able to help us in this position should contact Bob Isbill at with CWC Job Volunteer in the subject line or, if you have any questions, you can phone him at 760.221.6367.
Never Miss a Thing
See more events listed on our calendar.

To be notified of upcoming events, join the CWC group on MeetUp.

Resources for Members
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: Mark Dooley
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
Volunteer Coordinator: Lisa Meltzer Penn
Membership: Margaret Nalbach
Web Manager: Mindy Yang
Newsletter Editor: Linda Glave
Newsletter Design: Corinna Sherman
Hospitality: Megan McDonald
Think Tank/Writers Helping Writers: Geri Spieler 
Retreat Coordinator: Korie Pelka
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

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