Welcome to The Club!

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CWCLogowithR

The Berkeley Branch is the founding branch of the oldest professional writers’ club West of the Missisippi.

CWC Berkeley Branch welcomes all California Writers Club members and guests to our monthly speaker program and affordable workshops on the art and business of writing.

On June 16th we celebrated our member’s success at the

CWC Author Book Launch

Featuring nine fresh voices with new books.

We are now on break until September. Stay tuned for our first speaker event in the fall!

Click here to commit to your writing career.

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See You TOMORROW! End-of-year BOOK LAUNCH!

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Our final meeting of the year will take place TOMORROW at 3pm at our Member Book Launch! Here is information on the event and links to purchase all the books!

  • Thank you to Fred Dodsworth for emcee-ing the event…
  • Welcome to new member, Jane Anne Star, author of Small: The Little We Need for Happinesswho will be joining us last-minute…
  • Say you are coming on Facebook HERE! Please bring a friend!
  • Plan to come a little early to find parking… and stay after for another book event and/or some socializing!
And now a word from Laurel Bookstore:

CWC Author BOOK LAUNCH June 16th!

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Instead of our regular meeting, this June we will celebrate all the Berkeley CWC authors who were published in 2017-2018 with an evening of readings at Laurel Bookstore. Come and celebrate our amazing members! The diversity of our writers gives a unique taste of the Bay Area publishing scene and nine creative, emerging authors.

The event is steps away from the 12th St. BART station in a charming local bookstore, Laurel Bookstore at 1423 Broadway St., Oakland, CA 94612.

We are holding this event from 3-5 on Saturday, rather than our regular Sunday meeting, so as not to conflict with Father’s Day. No meeting on June 17th!


Books by CWC Authors Featured Sat. June 16th:

51t-cfi3y3l-_sx322_bo1204203200_JoAnn Smith Ainsworth: Expect Deception

(She Writes Press)

Just when US WAVE Livvy Delacourt thinks she and her team of psychic Nazi hunters are ready for whatever The Reich can throw at them, Hitler adds to the mix a spy who also happens to be a wizard. Now dark magic is being used to attack US facilities, and Livvy must match wits with the evil wizard, whose objective is to destroy Operation Delphi and all her team. If she fails to ramp up her psychic powers, she may perish―and perhaps cause the US to lose the war with Germany while she’s at it.

An emotional journey through paranormal realms, Expect Deception is a fast-paced, suspenseful sequel to Expect Trouble, about what happens when US Navy psychics pit themselves against their Nazi counterparts.

cover1Kristen Caven (writing as Cosima Zanardi): The Vesuvian Affair

(Mystic Editions)

Carla White never expected to be climbing a volcano, and she never expected to be at Carnevale in Venice, much less swept up by romance. Had she been paying attention, she might have been prepared for the Italian *baci*. But no one ever expects to be possessed by a goddess.

The Vesuvian Affair is a limited edition art print only available at special events, exclusive venues and from the author at www.kristencaven.com. Kristen, who also writes psychology, poetry and personal essays,  will also give a sneak peek at her forthcoming travel memoir, Ten Days, Ten Pounds, which inspired this fantasy.

51hk42bn6igl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Tim Jollymore: Lake Stories and Other Tales

(Finns Way Books)

Comic, heartfelt, and mysterious, these stories charm the reader with good humor, affection for their natural settings, and the gentle, persistent seeking for a lasting place in the daily world of common folk.

Some tales cast moonlight over the solitary in us all who wander at dusk. Others haunt us with loss and evoke a certain sense of autumn, likely to press sighs from an ache in our breath. Still others fill us with the pride in a true hero.

Within, the reader finds young love, aged angst, bumbling travelers, the fogged memory, moon watchers, dog rescuers, lost and very-lost tourists, and long, sweet farewells.

The humorous among these engender wistful smiles, occasional smirks, and outright chuckles punctuated by a shaking of the cynical head.

9781631523106Christine Evelyn Volker: Venetian Blood, Murder in a Sensuous City

(She Writes Press)

Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend—but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?

A mysterious tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth —before it’s too late.

51fwyiqriol-_sx326_bo1204203200_Alice Jurow: Vamps of ’29

(Deco Vamp)

In the darker corners of the City of Light, three fashionable young women revel in the glamor of late-1920s Paris nightlife. They model cutting-edge styles at a couture house on the rue Cambon. And, they are vampires. “Vamps of ’29” follows their piquant and picaresque adventures as they seek to define for themselves what it means to be a modern vamp. Jazz-mad and fashion-obsessed, this debut novel is period fiction with a touch of urban fantasy.

Alice Jurow, as “Ms Mhoon” is a bit of a cult figure in the Art Deco Society and it’s worth coming out just to see what she will wear.  She is working on the sequel, Vamps of ’39.

Kymberlie Ingalls: 43

(Rainfall Press)

“Like the Fool, I began this life feeling strangely empty and profoundly sad as if I had already lost something. I have no prediction to how it will end, but do believe my truth will be found when I get there. I am a hoarder of moments, of words and photos and status updates. I’m not sure if I’m letting go so that I can move forward, or so that I can finally be at rest. Death has taken hold and isn’t letting go – 12 people in 12 months was only the beginning. I’m tired of the fight, of the grieving and the recovery that never has a chance to happen.

I’m ready for it to be over.

My life was to expire at 43 years of age. My Intuition said so, and she’s never wrong.

Interpretation is everything.”

51k52uhmz4lSheryl J. Bize-Boutte: Running For The 2:10

(Createspace)

This book of autobiographical short stories follows Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte’s 2014 publication of “A Dollar Five: Stories From a Baby Boomer’s Ongoing Journey.” In “Running For The 2:10: More Stories From a Baby Boomer’s Ongoing Journey,” the discord of skin tone often seeps in to color the path, playing like an ever present low hum in the background of these coming of age tales. Set in Oakland, California, the road winds from family shopping trips to the local hardware store that activate the writer, to near derailing losses and finding alternative ways back to joy. In these stories, Bize-Boutte deftly describes how heartbreak can give way to hilarity and loss can make room for celebration. Be prepared to laugh, cry and gasp out loud, in no particular order.

61xtw43yw1lGary Durbin: Nano-Uncertainty

(Amazon Digital Services)

Nano-Uncertainty brings to life the strange world of high-tech in the Bay Area while presenting the real danger of an unconstrained artificial intelligence.
Software super geek James Forrest becomes unexpectedly embroiled in a murder case when he is hired to investigate the software at Distributed Nanotech Inc., a Berkeley supercomputer software company. James tells Susanne Anderson, the CEO, that DNI’s murdered Chief Scientist copied his code from an artificial intelligence project; this makes her life even more complex. While she struggles to keep the company’s venture financing on track and James struggles to understand the software, they become murder suspects.
James builds a visual tool to see inside the supercomputer. Even though the Visualizer is hypnotic and painful, it helps him unlock a hidden AI. The DNI system breaks, and when James figures out how to fix it, the murderer is enraged and comes after James. Pulled together by their romantic attraction for each other, James and Susanne join forces to contain the dangerous AI.

51de6m0tggl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Henry Hitz (writing as KM Lovejoy): Supremacy

(Wordrunner Press)

Peter Graves, a longtime activist, with inoperable brain cancer, is desperate to have a meaningful death. The Supreme Court is about to forbid the use of the stem cells that could save his life. Someone needs to arrange the assassination of one of the reactionary Supreme Court Justices, and it might as well be him…

This “kinky political thriller with a big heart” is written pseudonymously by an author of White Knight, another political thriller about an activist caught in the secret and tragic connection between the Harvey Milk and Jonestown massacres.

 

 

 

Five Questions for Laurie Panther, Tomorrow’s Featured Member

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Lately we’ve been doing interviews with the guest we asked to come speak to the club, but we also want you to have a chance to get to know our fellow Berkeley CWC members. It’s not only our guests who have something to contribute, our members are capable, interesting and knowledgeable. Our meeting is mostly a chance for us to share our insights and struggles.

That brings us to this month’s featured member, Laurie Panther.

Laurie Panther holds a master’s degree in education and an Administrative Credential in Educational Leadership for Social Justice.  In her personal life, she has served in many capacities in both twelve-step recovery groups, as well as for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse; and has maintained twenty-nine years of sobriety and abstinence from drugs. She gives workshops on recovery and empowerment (for example, this upcoming workshop). Panther writes poetry and has performed a one-woman show about her life in several venues (see Laurie’s story about the “pussy bushes” at the Moth). She blogs about these topics at Mixed Girl Survival School

Five Questions for Featured Member Laurie Panther

1. What’s the most important piece of writing advice that you could give to other writers?

Don’t be afraid to let other people read what you write. When you get lots of feedback, you can find trends to validate observations, and you won’t take each one of a few as the be-all and end-all. Less devastating. Also be prepared to revise—a lot!

2. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A housewife (because my mother worked and emotionally neglected her children) and a writer (because I could express my unspeakable emotional truths as child). I began journaling when I was 11 years old.

3. If you could truly be the writer you wanted to be, what would your career look like?

My writing would be published by a reputable house, and after hot sales of the memoir style, I’d write in other genres, such as “self-help” and parenting—all focused on helping people identify and overcome the damage of trauma (sex abuse, child abuse, neglect, depression, anxiety, etc.) I would also travel to share my writing, as well as providing workshops & and individual consultations.

4. What other writers inspire you?

Female writers inspire me. Especially ones who capture the struggles of sexuality, repressions, overcoming barriers. Of the classic female English novelists: the Bronte Sisters, Virginia Woolf, and Kate Chopin come to mind, and from the modern women writers: Barbara Kingsolver (Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favorites), Ann Pachett, and gritty memoir and memoir style writers: Jeannette Walls, Dorothy Allison, and Toni Morrison.

5. What do you think of the writing business these days?

I really miss the art in writing. It used to be that the people who were born with the ability to communicate their burning inner fire or insights were sought after by publishers and taken in and nurtured. Or less talented people could labor and hone their skills, achieving a fair chance that a publisher would give them a shot. But now, talent doesn’t seem to play much of a role. There’s so much crap being published and sold at Barnes & Noble, and people will read the latest crap displayed on the tables and buy more “in the series.” Access to a good publishing house, and the support they used to offer the writers is gone. The self-promoting that writers have to engage in has moved the craft aspect from the page to the internet manipulation game. It feels like prostitution to me, or a marathon where the most dogged win and not the most talented. When experts come to us with the great idea that instead of writing what we are moved to write, we should research what is selling and write what will get published—art has died.

At this Sunday’s meeting, Laurie Panther will be present to read from her memoir: Mixed Girl, Trauma Oncologist: How I Cured the Soul Sickness That Ate My Family Alive. A life-long East Bay native, Laurie’s story covers how her mixed race family, with adopted children from orphanages around the world, navigated the 50s, 60s and beyond. Laurie unpacks trauma, her inspiring efforts to survive, and how she broke the chain of dysfunction. We hope you’ll join us. Our featured guest will be Joe Clifford and as usual there will be coffee, snacks, marketing advice and craft discussion groups. 

 

Interview with Acquisitions Editor and Author Joe Clifford, our Feature for This Sunday’s Metting

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It’s an interview with this Sunday’s featured guest, Joe Clifford. Joe is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and the author of several books, including Junkie Love and the Jay Porter Thriller Series, as well as editor of Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen and Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash.

Clifford’s success wasn’t smooth sailing. He overcame a a ten-year heroin and methamphetamine addiction, which culminated with felony arrests, overdoses, and homelessness. He found his light as he fought through the darkness to recovery.  Skating the edge of insanity is a concept that Clifford is familiar with and lays it all bare in his memoir.

Interview conducted by Berkeley CWC member Cristina Deptula.

Cristina Deptula: Your life seems to have been one wild adventure! What would you say to people who feel they should be working on developing their writing craft but are in a season of life where they really struggle to put keys to the keyboard, as you probably were when you were homeless?

Joe Clifford: Read! You can always find books (even on the side of the road). Long before I was a writer, I was a reader, and most great writers will tell you they’ve read way more than they’ve written. Of course one of the wrinkles is that as you start writing professionally, the time for reading for pleasure gets seriously cut into! You’re always reading for work, in one way or another. Also, writing is more than just the writing; it’s observing, practicing craft. I used to scribble poems on napkins when I was homeless, think about the scenes I was seeing, imagining the stories. Of course, this is in retrospect. When I was living on the streets and in skid row hotels, I wasn’t actively outlining novels; although I did always believe the material would, somehow, turn into art.

CD: You’ve edited anthologies of crime fiction inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash songs. What do you think in their music speaks to writers, and are there songwriters out there today who could have a similar effect on writers?

JC: I LOVE this question! I wrote in the introduction to Trouble in the Heartland (the Springsteen anthology) that if I had to pick one author as the most influential in my life, it would be the Boss. And the reason is simple. When I was a teenager, I rebelled and fought authority like a lot of kids, and this meant not doing homework, which included reading. In my defense, while I am certain Across Five Aprils is a wonderful book, to an angry sixteen-year-old, stuck “in a town full of losers,” it didn’t speak to me. Springsteen did. So he was part of my formative artistic years. I was studying story structure without realizing it. What Springsteen can do in a single line (“Remember all the movies Terry we’d go and see / trying to walk like the heroes we thought he had to be / and after all this time to find we’re just like all the rest . . .”) what it takes most authors three-hundred pages to do.

As for the best songwriter storytellers today? For my money: Brian Fallon and Craig Finn. But there are a bunch: Micah Schnabel, Travis Meadows, Frank Turner, and, yes, Taylor Swift!

Memoirist Joe Clifford

Join Joe Clifford this Sunday at Preservation Park in Oakland

CD: I notice that not long after coming out of homelessness, you went back to school and earned a MFA. Would you recommend that for other writers? Do you think that the degree adds to a writer’s career development?

JC: You mean going to school over being homeless? Definitely! But, seriously, without my MFA, I am not publishing books today. Just how my mind works. I had a tough time with causality, which is paramount to structuring a novel. I could do scenes; I couldn’t connect them the way one needs to propel a novel. And where I went to get my masters, Florida International University, is one of the few that actively promotes genre, since it’s a way to both write and make money.

CD: What drew you to crime/detective fiction?

JC: After I wrote Junkie Love, I’d told the story of my addiction, and I didn’t want to write the same book over and over. It seemed to me that, with my background, crime was the next logical place to go. Criminals, cops, lowlifes, junkies. As you can imagine, I saw a lot of stuff out there that would make for great stories! Plus, like I mentioned, FIU had several terrific mystery, thriller writers, like Les Standiford and James W. Hall, teaching there.

CD: In your blog you mention that the gatekeeper system of publishing has drawbacks but you “don’t want to criticize it because you don’t see any alternative.” Why do you say that, and what are your feelings about self-publishing? What do you recommend for authors who have trouble finding agents and publishers?

JC: There’re a number of reasons. The first being, no one wants to listen to a published writer complain about how hard it is to get published! Ultimately, though, there is no great conspiracy to keep good writers from going unpublished. The problem with the gatekeeper system, for writers, is that it can feel like it moves way too slowly. I still believe that if you are good enough and keep at it, your work will get out there. The timetable just stinks sometimes. It’s very hard to put your heart and soul into a book and then sit around and wait for the process to play out. My feeling on self-publishing is, more times than not, it’s counterproductive. Self-publishing doesn’t just mean the author getting the book into print themselves; it means he or she is responsible for all of it—the promotion, the booking events, the distribution, etc. And, yeah, when you are at an indie you can do a lot of that yourself anyway, but you still have a certified label behind you. Which means more reviews, a certain level of respect; and I don’t say this for any other reason than this can mean more sales. And not sales for money’s sake (although that part is nice). The bigger issue: once a book is published, traditional or self-published, it becomes part of your permanent record. If an author “only” sells 1,000 copies of a book, the next time he or she approaches an agent or a new house, whatever, those numbers come with them. Simply put, it’s very hard to move tens of thousands on your own.


Ask Joe your own questions at this Sunday’s monthly meeting. He will speak to how the truth will set us free in any genre, and any project. In his road to redemption, Joe has become a successful writer, editor and anthologist.   Clifford will share the lessons he has learned, insecurities about his success, and his insights of utilizing our struggles to become our strengths. He will be joined by featured CWC member Laurie Panther.

Joe’s writing can be found at JoeClifford.com. Find out about Laurie Panther at mixedgirlsurvivalschool.com

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May 12: Art in the Park: Writer/Artist Mini-Retreat in the Oakland Hills

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art in the park retreat at Joaquin Miller Park

Join Your Fellow Writers at Joaquin Miller Park

…And Bring Your Artist Friends Too

10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Writers & artists, come for a day of quiet creativity in Joaquin Miller Park to celebrate Oakland Art Month. We’ll meet informally at the historic “home base” of our writer’s club, and generate new work with inspiration from the “minister of the woods.”

Who: Sketch artists, painters, literary and performing artists living in or visiting Oakland.

What: A generative gathering in community ~ includes a short history of “The Hights,” Joaquin Miller’s arts retreat in the Oakland Hills, an optional Literary History Hike, and time to write and to hang out.

When: Saturday, May 12, 2018, 10:30am – 2:30pm. Come for all or part of it!

Where: Joaquin Miller Park ~ Park on Joaquin Miller Drive and meet at the Fire Circle.

3300 Joaquin Miller Rd, Oakland, California 94602

Bring paper and pens, your laptop, or easels and paints, and a sack lunch and drink. Sharing is wonderful!

RSVP on Facebook or just meet us there.

The Road to Redemption: From Homelessness to Publishing

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Joe Clifford was born in Berlin, CT, before discovering Jack Kerouac and Syd Barrett (literally) and setting out for San Francisco to be a rock and roll star.

It didn’t work out.

After a ten-year heroin and methamphetamine addiction, which culminated with felony arrests, overdoses, and homelessness, Clifford finally had enough and decided to turn his life around. He found his light as he fought through the darkness to recovery.  Skating the edge of insanity is a concept that this author is familiar with and lays it all bare in his memoir, Junkie Love.  In his road to redemption, Joe has become a successful writer, editor and anthologist.  He will speak to how the truth will set us free in any genre, and any project.  Clifford will share the lessons he has learned, insecurities about his success, and his insights of utilizing our struggles to become our strengths.

About Joe Clifford

Joe is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and the author of several books, including Junkie Love and the Jay Porter Thriller Series, as well as editor of Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen and Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash. Joe’s writing can be found at JoeClifford.com.

But Wait, There’s More!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…

Be sure to arrive early to participate in the Craft and Marketing groups. These are interactive conversations where you can talk to other writers to resolve the issues in your writing and your writers career. Make the commitment to be join us every third Sunday; your writing career is important and you deserve this.

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements

Featured Speakers

3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member Laurie Panther
3:15–4:00 – Featured Speaker Joe Clifford

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

Our meetings are right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

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Featured Member: Poet Fred Dodsworth

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Fred Dodsworth will open for Amos White’s The Art of Giving Live Readings tomorrow. We asked him a few questions… this is what he said!

What’s the most important piece of writing advice that you could give to other writers? It’s hard to start writing but if you don’t start everything anyone might tell you about writing become wasted words.

What one thing has helped promote your writing most? Actually taking the time to promote yourself. That means submitting everyplace you can. I learned this in sales. You don’t make a sale unless you make a pitch and if you make enough pitches you’re guaranteed to make a sale.

What are your writing habits? I really learned to write in a newsroom. At the time I was pulling down about $70,000 a year as an editor and my new boss, the Executive Editor wanted to fire me but he couldn’t so he tried to drive me out by making me a front page columnist [column one above the fold, six times a week]. I liked the money so I worked in the middle of the complete madhouse of a major daily, folks on the phone shouting, several TVs running, people standing around chatting about their work or this sex lives, and did what had to be done. A year later I took my first creative writing class. My writing habit is simple. I type on a computer anywhere I can but only when I have a goal. I know I need to write everyday and I write whenever I sit down to write, whether I’m on a computer in an office or on a composition note book (I buy them on sale for 50¢ to $1 each) but .

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to grow up. As I grew older my goal became moving away from home. I first moved out when I was 15. I had my first salary job at 14 and shortly thereafter I moved out.

If you could truly be the writer you wanted to be, what would your career look like? I’d be Joyce Carol Oates, able and willing to write every day relentlessly. When I do that it scares me. I lose touch with everything else for days at a time.

What other writers inspire you? George Elliot, John Gardner, Virginia Woolf, Aimee Bender, Haruki Murakami, Alain Robbe-Grillet (le voyeur), Miguel de Cervantes, Mary Gaitskill, Julie Otsuka (Buddha in the Attic), Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony), so many.

Come hear Fred read his poetry tomorrow!

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