September 2021
August was our first hybrid meeting, where we offered attendance in person or virtually on Zoom. It was wonderful seeing so many of the faces we've missed since last year, even under masks!
Our August speaker, Brian Fies, author of A Fire Story, showed how graphic novels are a significant medium to tell a story.
Our next board meeting is on Tuesday, September 14, 6-7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Board meetings are held 6-7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month unless otherwise noted, and are open to any member in good standing. If you would like to attend a board meeting, contact: to receive an invitation.

  • President's Message
  • Upcoming Events
  • Membership Renewal
  • September General Meeting
  • Homegrown Poetry
  • 2021 Poetry Anthology
  • Writing Exercise
  • Redwood Writers Circle
  • Author Support Group
  • Member News & Events
  • New Members
  • Editor's Note
NOTE: If you are reading this newsletter through your email, it may be clipped at the end. If you don't reach the editor's note, be sure to click "view entire message" at the bottom of this newsletter.

Mark your calendars for this month's upcoming events! Keep reading the newsletter for more details about each event.

Sept. 14: Board Meeting

Sept. 18: Author Support Group

Sept. 18: General Meeting with Jeff Somers on "Short Stories for Fun & Profit"

Sept. 25: RW Circle

Sept. 30: Membership renewals end
Members of the Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club must renew their membership each year if they want to be remained as a current member and take advantage of the club’s benefits. 
RENEWAL. Membership renewal in Redwood Writers (CWC) continues through September 30, 2021.  The fee to renew for the year is $45.  

EXPRESS PASS. At the time you renew you can also purchase an Express pass for all club meetings (July 2021-June 2022). Purchasing an Express pass is a one-time fee of $45 which pays for all 12 meetings (get three free!) and the meeting recordings. Express members do not pay the $5 door fee each month to attend a meeting.

On Oct 1 if you have not renewed, you will have to pay the $65 new member fee to be reinstated.

NEW MEMBERS. Applications for new membership also begins July 1. The fee for a new member joining the club is $65.

DONATIONS. When you renew your membership, consider an additional donation to the club. Hosting a monthly meeting with professional speakers, publishing two anthologies (prose and poetry), offering three cash prize contests, going to the fair and offering three workshops or a conference each year isn’t cheap. Your renewal provides the branch with $25 income per member to cover these expenses. Your donations help the club plan for new opportunities, speakers, and events. If you love the club, consider a small donation and join the donors list published in the newsletter.
Saturday, September 18
1 - 2:30 p.m.
at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa
and also online
Cost is $5 for members and $10 for guests.
Masks are required by all, regardless of vaccination status to attend this meeting, per CDC.

Note: Jeff Somers will speak live from his location, which will be streamed at the Finley Center and over Zoom.
Short Stories for Fun & Profit
Jeff Somers
A discussion of short stories from both a craft and a business POV - how they can help you improve your writing, and how they can be a powerful part of your career.
Jeff Somers ( began writing by court order as an attempt to steer his creative impulses away from engineering genetic grotesqueries. He has published nine novels, including the Avery Cates Series of noir-science fiction novels from Orbit Books (, the darkly hilarious crime novel Chum from Tyrus Books, and most recently tales of blood magic and short cons in the Ustari Cycle, including the novel We Are Not Good People from Pocket Gallery ( He has published over forty short stories, including “Ringing the Changes,” which was selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2006, “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through,” which appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight edited by Charlaine Harris, “Three Cups of Tea,” which appeared in the anthology Hanzai Japan, “The Company I Keep,” which appeared in the anthology Life is Short and Then You Die edited by Kelley Armstrong, and “Zilla, 2015,” published by the Lascaux Review. He also writes about books for BookBub and about the craft of writing for Writer’s Digest, which published his book on the craft of writing Writing Without Rules in 2018. He lives in Hoboken with his wife, The Duchess, and their cats. He considers pants to always be optional.
September's General Meeting Agenda
  • Finley Center opens at noon for Author Support or mingling
  • Zoom meeting room opens at 12:45 p.m. for open conversation
  • Meeting starts at 1 p.m.
  • Featured speaker, Jeff Somers
  • Chair announcements
  • Member announcements
  • Adjourn at 2:30 p.m.

Please submit poems to: Submission guidelines: single-spaced, Times or Times New Roman, 12 point font, no all caps, please. Poems are reviewed by a team of poets. We will acknowledge receipt of your work, and let you know if your poem is going to be included, or if we are requesting minor edits prior to inclusion.
Les Bernstein's poems have appeared in journals, presses and anthologies in the U.S.A. and internationally. Her chapbooks Borderland, Naked Little Creatures and Amid the Din have been published by Finishing Line Press. Les is a winner of the 6th annual Nazim Hikmet Festival.She also was a Pushcart Prize Nominee for 2015. Les has been the editor of Redwood Writer's anthologies for the last five years and was also the editor of the Marin High School Anthology 2018. Les' full length poetry book Loose Magic will be released this coming November and is available to order through Finishing Line Press. "Everyday" is a poem from this upcoming book.
By Les Bernstein

every day in the middle distance
I build my house
the foundation yoked to plausibility
a dreamscape yard

underneath a waking life
a charmed unconcern
makes sacred
altars for ordinary life
rooms built for forgetting

every day I build
a structure from the roof down
beams high
a hint of dry rot

every day I build
strange mysteries of small benedictions
a story carved in bone
no matter how unique
not exactly new
Each month, the Redwood Writer will feature an exercise to help inspire your writing. This can be an exercise you do on your own, or you can send your 300-word (or less) piece to for possible publication in the newsletter.
The Proust Questionnaire

In 1890, Marcel Proust answered these thirty-five questions about himself.  Variation of Proust’s questions are still used today. Answering these questions may improve your self-awareness and they are fun. Answering these questions about a main character you are working on may help you develop depth in your characters. 

Exercise: Pick a character you are working on or one you have written about.  Answer these questions for that character and then for yourself.  How do you differ?  Did the exercise help you expand on your character?
  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favorite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?
PAGE TURNER: First Page Submissions Writing Exercise

Last month we asked members to send us a first page submission using one of seven opening lines we provided. Here is one of the submissions we received back:
Submitted by John Heide:

How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me? How do I begin to move when the avalanche of circumstance has buried me, but cruelly left my head exposed?

As I stand watching the slow wither of flowers, the only mark of time is the steady thud of pain in my chest. Past images of us spring like a charging lion, but remain as gentle as a frightened child, holding me tight. I can only manage shallow breaths.

Is it raining? Yes, it is. A thunderclap rumbles somewhere over the horizon, and I hear the patter of drops on my shoulders. Before me, small puddles form in the fresh dirt. I imagine the blessed water seeping down, and down––seeking her? Can nature possibly know? 

On the edges, I hear the voices of others scampering for shelter. They weave among the stones, as if the wet will cement their grief. I sigh and turn my gaze beyond the trees where a different life lies beyond. I shiver, snug my cap down, and start walking.

The chill feels real. 
It is time to reserve your spot to read at the Writers Circle.

Date: Sept 25, Saturday - 10:00 to Noon.
This is a zoom meeting, due to the uptick in Covid cases

Members who would like to attend should send an RSVP email to Linda Reid at Upon confirmation, you will receive more information.

Limit of 20 readers. 
If more than 20 sign up, there will be a wait list to read. 
Reading time limit - Each reader has 5 minutes. 

Writers Circle Mission: 
Our mission is to offer members an opportunity to read their work, in the warmth and supportive environment of fellow writers. 
Sept. 18, noon - 1 p.m.
(in the Finley Center courtyard before the general meeting)

Please join us at the Finley Center on Sept. 18 at noon to chat about writing, listen to the challenges of others, and share resources. All levels of writers can benefit from participating. Published authors enjoy this group as well as beginning writers. This is a forum where you pick the topics and questions to be discussed. Discuss the challenges of writing fiction, memoir, or nonfiction. Find new ways to handle rejection, writers' block, or to start a critique group.
The Author Support Group's purposes are to help those who want assistance getting unstuck, want new resources, or need guidance in choosing options. 
In his latest collection of short stories, First Person Singular, the wildly popular Haruki Murakami demonstrates why writing really, really good short stories is really, really hard. Mostly continuing his familiar theme of men relating to women, the eight stories in the collection range from excellent and aspirational to obtuse and baffling to directionless and boring. The best of the lot, “On a Stone Pillow” and “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey,” fully evidence why Murakami has been translated into more than fifty languages, has been published in the most prestigious publications and has been the recipient of numerous awards.  

- Tommie Whitener
Because Nine Perfect Strangers, written by Liane Moriarty, is coming to Hulu as a TV series, I decided to read the book I downloaded months ago to my Kindle, and then forgot about. Told in third person, this book jumps from the POV of every character in the book. You'd think that would be confusing or chaotic, but it was a brilliant way to tell a 10-day story from many different sides. The story takes place at a health retreat, run by a corporate businesswoman turned spiritual guru. Each guest is there for different reasons, which are explained on superficial reasons in the beginning, but then evolve as the story reveals more and more about the things that have wounded them.

And then there are the smoothies they have to drink. What's in those smoothies, anyway?

Nine Perfect Strangers can only be described as a comedic suspense thriller that's hard to put down. I highly recommend.

- Crissi Langwell
If you have news to share about your writing, an award, an appearance, or other writing-related news, send a 100-word or less announcement to Photos encouraged. Deadline for consideration in next month’s newsletter is the 15th of this month.
Fran Claggett's Birthday Celebration

Time: Sep 13, 2021, 2 PM PST
Evening of Poetry
SAVE THE DATE! October 21, 2021 "CONNECTIONS” @ Sebastopol Center for the Arts.
5 local poets bring you an Evening of Poetry: Sandra Anfang, Kirsten Avilla, Ernie Carpenter, Hilary Moore, Larry Robinson. Music by John Christian. Donations @ the door. Net proceeds to benefit CA. Poets in the Schools. Attendees must be vaccinated; check website for mask requirements:
Put you and your book in the spotlight

Judy Baker is looking for authors who published a book in 2020-2021 for a new podcast. Have fun, relax and share about you, your business, and your book.

Before your session you’ll get tips on being a great interview guest. You will get access to the recording, and ideas about where to post your interview.

Schedule your Author Spotlight at
CWC NorCal Calendar

Because of social distancing, most events are now held virtually. This presents a unique opportunity to attend events, workshops, and meetings held by other CWC branches that would have been difficult to attend in person. To keep up to date with upcoming events, be sure to check the CWC NorCal calendar at the button below.
Marie Judson keeps an ongoing list of RW members interested in joining or creating a writing group. If you would like to find a critique group, or add more members to an existing group, send your genre(s) and contact information to You'll receive an email with the subject line, "Writers seeking writing groups." You can then either reply to all or select specific writers to contact. This has been an ongoing free service for Redwood Writers members for nine years.
A huge welcome to our new members, Steve Trenam and Joe Adams! Here's a little more about both. If you see either of them at the general meeting, either on Zoom or at the Finley Center, be sure to say hello.
Steve Trenam

As far as poetry is concerned, I am neither sure-footed nor clear. Metaphorically speaking, I am out on a leafless limb with just spider webs and moss, listening to the silken slip of water over stone. And the fact that no one understands me doesn’t make me an artist. My poems will probably not send a flurry of palpitations through the Gallery of Important Things Said, but then, my expectations have always been unreasonably high.

Steve Trenam is an SRJC Instructor who teaches a poetry writing class in their Older Adults Program. He is also a member of Poetic License Sonoma and collaborates with the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in conducting poetry readings on the fourth Tuesday of each month. His book, An Affront to Gravity, was recently published by Blue Light Press. More information about his work is available at and
Joe Adams

My lifelong love of speculative fiction has led me to write what I can only describe as "existential adventures."

While attempting to find himself, Joseph has lived and worked in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but he is only truly happy where he started, Sonoma County. After returning, he has started a family and a career, and is currently channeling the abundant beauty of this place to support and inspire his creative endeavors. 
A Tour of Redwood Writers Groups & Offerings
October 16
at the Finley Center and on Zoom
I love how Shawn compared writing to tending a garden. I'd like to go a step further with this and encourage you to enjoy the messy process before the final draft. Yes, it's a lot of work. Yes, it can feel grueling to weed out unnecessary words or fertilize the passages that need a bit more oomph. But this is also where the magic is. Don't be discouraged if your writing isn't perfect when you get it down on the page. It's not supposed to be. The first draft is when you tell yourself the story. But editing is when the story starts to breathe new life.

Also, I'm sick of tomatoes. Just kidding! But if you have any great recipes for tomatoes, send them my way!
This month we're in for a treat! I'm very excited to hear Jeff Somers speak at the September meeting about writing short stories. He will be streamed in from his location, but if you'd like to attend in person, we'd love to see you at the Finley Center. This month, we will also have our Author Support Group and RW Circle. And don't forget to renew your membership if you haven't, as registration ends this month.

All this and more is in this month's newsletter. Scroll up for more information.

Happy reading, and happy writing!

Crissi Langwell
Redwood Writer Editor
Want to be a part of the newsletter? Here's the cheat sheet to the different sections of this newsletter and the word count requirements:

  • Writers Helping Writers - 300 words or less
  • Other Articles or In Memoriam - 300 words or less
  • Members News - 100 words or less
  • What We're Reading - 100 words or less
  • Homegrown Poetry - short poems work best

Please do your best to adhere to word count limits! Send your articles and news by the 15th of the month to the newsletter editor at Send your poems by the 10th of the month to the poetry editor at Submission guidelines may apply, read section for requirements.
If you're interested in advertising in the Redwood Writer newsletter, contact the editor at for submission requirements and guidelines.
EDITOR: Crissi Langwell
Our mailing address is:
The Redwood Writer
P.O. Box 4687
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Redwood Writers is a branch of the California Writers Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.