San Francisco Peninsula Writer
Writers Helping Writers Since 1909
September 2020 | California Writers Club
Practice as Offering
Way back when our strange 2020 began (I’ll call it early March, since January and February seem so…2019), I got a year-long subscription to MasterClass. I thought I’d have an abundance of time on my hands to learn something new—cooking techniques from Thomas Keller, storytelling and humor from David Sedaris, and scientific thinking from Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Well, here it is almost six months later and I’ve made it through only a few of the hundreds and hundreds of hours of available classes.

Why? One reason is mismatched expectations. I was expecting something like a workshop or seminar. Instead, the David Sedaris offering turned out to be more like a lecture series. There’s nothing wrong with that, and other classes are more hands-on, but I had pictured myself like a college freshman, diving into new realms of knowledge and emerging as a new person. So much for reinventing myself.

Another reason I didn't get further is that my brain, and my days, are occupied with too many other activities. It seems ridiculous—given that I haven’t ventured outside of a small radius around my home for six months—that I could be too busy to listen to lectures from experts now and then. But I think we all know how time has stretched and oozed over the last few months.

Recently, guilt led me back. This time, I randomly picked Carlos Santana teaching guitar. I love his music, but I’m not, nor will I ever be, a guitarist. Yet I when I approached the class with a spirit of curiosity, rather than as something that would change me for the better, it was much more fun.

And I actually learned something.

In the second lesson, entitled “Practice as Offering,” Carlos explains that he prefers the word “offering” to the word “sacrifice.” He says the best thing to do with your mind before you begin practicing is send it away. As I listened, I began thinking about how his words apply to any creative endeavor, from music or writing to fine art or even cooking. There’s a difference between mastering the skills—which is the purpose of practice—and accessing emotion and the source of creativity. But you can practice accessing that creativity, just as you might practice moving from a G-chord to C-chord or crafting a grammatically correct sentence.

Without knowing it, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six months. Practicing. It’s why I’ve joined so many online writing groups, why I make time every day for freewriting, and why I come back, again and again, to meditation.

How do you cultivate “practice as offering” to nourish the two sides of yourself as an artist? Do you have activities specific to craft, and some to creativity? Do you even make a distinction? Let me know.


P.S. Don’t miss all our branch’s great events coming up in September. There’s the return of Writers Helping Writers on September 9 (a virtual writer’s block party), our monthly meeting on September 19 (all about author websites), a new offering, the return of Open Mic on September 22, and a new offering, Author Skills (featuring information on coaching) on September 23. And stay tuned for more exciting events in October around California Writers Month as well as preparation for NaNoWriMo in November.

P.P.S. Finally, if you’ll allow me a tiny bit of self-promotion, I’d like to let you know that it’s not to late to join the 9-month workshop series I’m teaching, starting September 13, with writing teacher and coach Jennifer Browdy. Our sign-up deadline is September 8. You can find out more here, or just email me.
Saturday September 19 Meeting - ONLINE

Pre-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
Pauline Wiles presents
Websites that wow readers:
How to create or update your online home
(more info below)

12:00 PM – Think Tank
Publishing vs. Print-On-Demand: 
Not the same thing at all
led by CWC Member Dave Hirzel


Websites that Wow Readers:
How to Create or Update Your Online Home
by Pauline Wiles
You've written your book (or are about to) and know you need to have some sort of online presence. What sort? Website? Social media? Leave it up to the publisher when you get one? Pauline will answer these questions and more about how to find a new (online) home!

Here are just some of the questions she will address:
  • When is the ideal time to create your author website? … and why it might be sooner than you think.
  • How technology is becoming simpler and more affordable, whether you want to build your first website, or switch your existing site to a new platform.
  • How to evaluate technology choices: an easy guide for technophobes!
  • Identifying the one clear call to action your website must deliver.
  • Trends for 2020 in website design; how to avoid a site that looks dated.
  • Smart questions to ask before you hire a website designer.
Pauline Wiles is an indie author with 5 (almost 6) books published. Her day job is helping authors and writers create simple, stylish websites. Noticing that many were often overwhelmed by this task, she is on a mission to dispel some of the myths around how difficult – and costly - a web project should be. Her professional resume includes teaching computing to adults on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as desktop support, entrepreneurship education, and marketing analysis.

Publishing v Print-On-Demand:
Not the Same Thing At All
led by Dave Hirzel
With the growth of online Print On Demand resources in the last couple decades, it’s become cheap and easy to self-publish that book that “real” publishers don’t have time or money to invest in, right?

Not exactly. Printing via POD cheap and easy, yes. Publishing that book, not cheap and not easy, but not impossible for the DIY crowd.

If you want someone to read your book, if you want to seriously grow your audience, you're going to have to get a handle on the business of publishing: business management, setting up DBAs and bank accounts, building that platform, partnerships and collaborations, working with editors and book designers, setting up and maintaining a professional-looking website, finding publicists and publicity, learning how to use online marketing tools. All this after you spent the time researching and writing your book, and uploading the .pdf. That was the easy part, but the rest of it—the business part—has its own rewards.

Come to the think tank to hear a few insights from one who’s been down that path.
David Hirzel started his first book as soon as he learned to write, and hasn’t stopped writing since. His passion is Antarctic exploration, expressed in such books as the Sailor on Ice series about Tom Crean, one of Shackleton’s hardiest men, and When Your Life Depends on It (with Brad Borkan). Hirzel’s Terra Nova Press has published books on Arctic exploration (Rough Weather All Day), the business of boatbuilding (The Livie Boatworks of Dundee), poetry (Sea Sonnets), with upcoming works on the Arctic Explorer Louise Arner Boyd.

David writes from Sky Ranch in Pacifica. When not writing, he might be found sailing on the Bay, hiking in the hills above Pacifica, or actually pursuing an income in architectural design.
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.

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.

-- Lisa Meltzer Penn (past president CWC SF Peninsula)

Author Skills Workshop
(formerly Workshops for Writers)

Book Coaching - The New Edit

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
6pm PDT (UTC -7:00)

Price - $12

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.

Pre-registration is required.

Our inaugural workshop will be led by Jaime Dill and Coral Rivera, professional book coaches.

Book coaching may not be a new concept, but it is growing as a modern editorial service. Editors are most traditionally known for the work they do on finished manuscripts. But the development of writing as a teachable craft, and not just a talented specialty, has created a need for editors who help writers in the planning and drafting phase. Book coaching has thus become an ideal education option for those without access to writing programs or without adequate support. In this webinar, you will learn:

  • what book coaching does
  • why it differs from other types of editing
  • how to know if coaching is the right service for you

and what to prepare for a season of coaching.
Bookfest brings together a diverse community of writers and book lovers in a series of vital and inspiring readings and conversations during the months of September and October. Curated by San Mateo County Poet Laureate Aileen Cassinetto, in collaboration with San Mateo County Libraries, this virtual bookfest will feature over 60 authors.

Don't miss the Wednesday, September 30 event at 6 PM when CWC SF Peninsula chapter board members Lisa Anne Meltzer, Audrey Kalman, Carole Bumpus, and Geri Spieler will be co-hosting a Facebook Live session with Aileen Cassinetto.
Open Mic is Back - Join Us Online

Tuesday, August 25, at 7 PM
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 an online event - Join us on Zoom

Meeting ID: 838 8018 8748
Passcode: 350834
Membership - Countdown!
Reduced rate ENDS September 30!

We hope we've convinced you of the benefits of memberships - flexibility in attending online from the comfort of home, introduction to critique groups, and the opportunity to attend CWC meetings events all over the state with a special dual membership price. If you have already renewed, great, and thank you! If you haven't, there is still time.

By statewide club policy, any payments received after September 30, 2020, must include an additional $20 reactivation fee.

Given the chaotic nature of this year, we will not be offering an option to pay for meetings in advance. Beginning with the August meeting, we will charge $5 for online meetings. If the situation improves and we can meet in person again, we will revert to the normal $10 per meeting for members and $15 for non-members.

Your cost to renew is $45. Your renewal for 2020-2021 covers the period July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

You can pay via one of the following:

  1. Pay online using PayPal ($45)
  2. Mail your check to CWC SF Peninsula, P.O. Box 853, Belmont, CA 94002.
  3. Are you a member of a different CWC chapter and want to renew your membership with CWC SF Peninsula? Add a second branch for $25
  4. Are you a student? Know a student? Purchase a student membership for $30

Renewal payments will be accepted through September 30, 2020, but we would like to have everyone renewed sooner.

Best regards,

Margaret Nalbach & Mark Dooley
Membership Team
Recurring Events - NOW ONLINE
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 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Every Thursday, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Join your writing peers as they lead free workshops on the techniques of writing. For now, these events are virtual.

2nd Wednesday (evening) every month

3rd Wednesday (evening) every month


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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