Welcome to The Club!

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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.

Our events are open to the public!

Our programs begin on September 18th with a


Hosted by historical novelist Francine Howard

We are accepting new members!  Click here to commit to your writing career.

Oct. 16th: The Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson

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How to Best Use Major Moments to Create Excitement
and a Deep Emotional Bond with Your Readers

Martha Alderson plot whispererSunday Oct 16th We Plot, and
The Plot Whisperer Will Answer
Our Plot Quandries via Skype

Five major scenes or moments in a story carry energetic surges that are powerful enough to turn the dramatic action of the story in an entirely new direction, create an entirely new level of intensity in the story, and contribute to its thematic significance. Whenever possible, identify these four energetic markers early in the writing process.

At Sunday’s meeting Martha Alderson, AKA the Plot Whisperer, will show you how to identify and make the most of these crucial energetic markers in your plot. She’ll teach us to “show” plot and school us in the Universal Story.

About Sunday’s Speaker, Martha Alderson

Martha Alderson is a historical novelist and the best-selling author of The Plot Whisperer. More recently, she has expanded her work to include helping people transform their creative lives. She has authored 6 additional plot books, including her newest release Writing Blockbuster Plots: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Plot, Structure, and Scenes, and produced 4 online video programs for writers.

She just released her historical novel Parallel Lives. Martha takes readers and writers alike beyond the words and into the very heart of a story. She lives and writes in Santa Cruz and blogs about writing and a writer’s life at the award-winning Plot Whisperer blog.

A Tech Milestone for CWC!

We Gather, But Martha Skypes

Please note, we will gather at the usual location in Jack London Square, but our speaker will be answering our questions on the big video projection screen, via Skype. We’re excited about the ways we can use this technology to bring more and better speakers. Hate this idea? Love this idea? Then you’ll have to come to the meeting to let us know!

Meeting Schedule for Sunday, October 16th, at
Connexion in Jack London Square

12-1 Author Support Group*
1-2 p.m. – Marketing Group*
12:30-2 p.m. –Social Hour
2-2:30 p.m. –Break & Book Sales
2:30-3 p.m. — Club Business & Announcements
3 p.m. – CWC featured member
3:15-4 p.m. – Martha Alderson

* Guests may visit any of our author support groups once before joining.

Click here for more information about location and time.

Click here to download a printable PDF flyer of this info

9/18 CWC EVENT—”Pitch Slam” with Francine Howard

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cwc logo - b/wThe California Writers Club—Berkeley Branch


to a Brand New Year (2016-17)

with a


Well, maybe not a “slam” per se but this mini-workshop will be your chance to perfect that one minute speech that opens the door to publication!

WHO’S IT FOR? All Writers. Have you ever been asked, “What’s your novel, non- fiction book, magazine article, journalism piece about?” Sure you have. And how have you responded? “Uhh,” or worse yet, you ramble on for ten minutes while the ears of your listener long for a thick wad of cotton.

But I’ve Not Finished My Project Yet: Great! If you can crystalize the point of your project into one minute, your writing will flow both better and faster. You NEED a pitch.

WHY IS A PITCH IMPORTANT? If you want to publish your book, convince a newspaper editor to accept your article for publication, or complete your project, then you’ve got to convince that decision-maker of the strength/uniqueness of your special offering.

                                            We’re Here to Help!

WHEN: Sunday, September 18, 2016. Meeting 12:00-4:00 (Pitch Practice 3:00-4:00)

WHERE: ConneXion: Third Street, Jack London Square,Oakland


Bestselling author, CWC Member Francine Thomas Howard

HOW DO YOU PREPARE? Come to the meeting with your pitch condensed to ONE minute. (Yes, I’ll have a stop watch.) After you’ve delivered your words of supreme intelligence, your fellow writers will give you feedback. You will remain silent. You can then judge if your pitch has conveyed your writing intentions.

WHO WILL MODERATE THIS FUN EVENT?” Me, Francine Thomas Howard. I’ve had a little bit of practice at this sort of thing. My latest traditionally published novel reached #3 (released August 1, 2016) in the paid Kindle Store and, yes, I had to pitch it.


$10 Public ~ $5 for CWC Members

Our featured CWC author this month is John Byrne Barry.

Meeting Schedule for Sunday, June 19th, 2016:

12-1 Author Support Group*
1-2 p.m. – Marketing Group*
12:30-2 p.m. –Social Hour
2-2:30 p.m. –Break & Book Sales
2:30-3 p.m. — Club Business & Announcements
3:15-4 p.m. – Pitch Slam!

* Guests may visit any of our author support groups once before joining.

Click here for more information about location and time.

Daughter Official Cover


Francine Thomas Howard is the author of four novels—three of them published by Lake Union, the historical fiction wing of traditionally-published Amazon Publishing.  Ms. Howard’s latest novel, The Daughter of Union County, won top billing as the lone representative for Historical Fiction in Amazon’s prestigious Kindle First program for July.  This program reaches millions of select readers on five continents.  Ms. Howard’s novel, touching on controversial topics—racial passing in turn-of-the-20th-century-Arkansas, oil and grab, mistreatment of women, betrayal, greed, and murder—ranked as high as #3 in the paid Kindle store.  Daughter sold over 17,000 copies in its first seven weeks to readers in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, Denmark, and the United States.

Ms. Howard is current Vice President of the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club.   She credits lessons learned at a CWC-BB sponsored critique group as key to her pitch submission leading to her first Amazon contract.  Page from a Tennessee Journal, released March 2010, has sold nearly 35,000 copies and continues to sell monthly to readers around the world.  Though Ms. Howard is a novelist, she has also crafted a non-fiction pitch—one that landed her a literary agent.  She feels privileged to share lessons learned at the CWC-BB with her fellow writers.

Statewide Picnic Saturday!

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The CWC Annual Picnic is this weekend! Are you excited?

Writers club members from all over the state will be joining us on July 23rd at Joaquin Miller Park. Members and their guests will

  • Eat, drink, and catch up with fellow writers
  • Read at the open mic (3 minutes or less, please)
  • Win fabulous prizes… and/or the coveted Golden Fork Award with your clever literary dessert!

Plus: bring a book for the member share basket… take a book to read and review!

Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Veggie Burgers and condiments are provided by the club. Locals, please bring a side dish to share and/or pitch in… sign up here!

CWC Picnic Flyer 2016

Picnic Particulars
Map and Directions
Lit Cake Contest

Click here for information about location. Time is 1pm to 4pm.


Members are also invited to stay for the after-party, a social gathering to network with writers belonging to other East Bay literary communities. To Build a Fire with The Heart of The Muse is part of the 2016 Jack London Legacy Celebration. Guests are invited to bring readings by early CWC authors (Jack London, Joaquin Miller, Ina Coolbrith, etc.), or works inspired by them. More info/RSVP on Facebook! 

Magic of Memoir—SPECIAL for CWC members

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The MAGIC OF MEMOIR 2016 conference is happening October 15-16 in beautiful downtown Oakland at the Marriott Hotel—overlooking San Francisco and the Bay—an amazing venue with panoramic views and fantastic food. 

This conference is being co-led by memoir experts Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers. They also have two expert panels—with renowned memoirists and three agents who will give individuated attention and advice as part of the Pitch-a-thon. Read all about it on MagicOfMemoir.com.

One of the best things about an event like this is the networking and connection with fellow memoirists. Last year’s participants made friends for life, and Brooke and Linda Joy are excited to offer CWC members this deep discount on the weekend.  

Don’t hesitate to be in touch with Brooke Warner directly if you have any questions: brooke@warnercoaching.com


Getting Started with Your Memoir

  • Find your category and themes, create a structure that works, and discover techniques to get started.

5 Key Elements of a Successful Memoir

  • Straight to the point, here’s what you need to master: scenes, narration, theme, characterization, and takeaway. We are going to hit the ground running.

How to Map Your Memoir

  • This session is focused on proven strategies to turn your memories into scenes.

THE MAGIC OF MEMOIR: Why We Write Memoir

  • Three courageous panelists (all published memoirists) talk about this craft we all love—and what keeps them coming back for more.



  • Join Linda Joy, Brooke, and your fellow memoirists for drinks and conversation at Desco, just two blocks from the Oakland Marriott.

Register Today | CWC Member Discount Link

“An awe-inspiring weekend! The valuable information and resources were amazing. The connections, inspiration and motivation invaluable.” —Jean Wells, Magic of Memoir 2015
“The event was really well planned—everything ran smoothly and I learned so much. I was challenged to rethink structure and to really get at my truth.” —Marianne Rossi, Magic of Memoir 2015


Scene Intensive

  • There is nothing more important in memoir writing than mastering scenes. Understanding scene is the key to writing your whole book—and this intensive is geared toward locking in this skill set for good.

Writing Exercise

  • This one-hour writing session opens with a prompt and is designed to get you practicing some of the elements of craft you will have absorbed during the weekend.

Platform and Pitching

  • How important is platform really? This session will explore why agents and publishers care so much about author platform—and why it’s easier than you might think to start building the foundation of your own right away.


  • Yep, we’re doing it. A real-live pitching session to practice your skills on agents. Participants will be drawn from a pool of interested memoirists.

WHAT AGENTS ARE LOOKING FOR: Agents Talk about the Secrets to Getting Published

  • Three agents talk about what they’re looking for—and give tips to help memoirists better prepare themselves for the experience of shopping to the pros.


  • We’ll be giving away tons of great prizes, including a Kindle Fire, consulting time, and many other valuable prizes for writers. You get 2 free raffle tickets when you register for the Summit!

Register Today | CWC Member Discount Link

“I learned how difficult and brave it is to write your best work. A great experience all around!” —Lori Nicholson, Magic of Memoir 2015


We are excited to announce a talented and experienced roster of guests who will be joining us for two lively panels about the writing process and getting publishing your memoir.SATURDAY PANEL: THE MAGIC OF MEMOIR: WHY WE WRITE MEMOIR




ljm-bio-photo_smLinda Joy Myers is the president and founder of theNational Association of Memoir Writers. She is the author of The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Becoming Whole, and the award-winning memoir Don’t Call Me Mother, which won the BAPIA Gold Medal prize. Her workbook Journey of Memoir was published by She Writes Press in 2013.
Warner-headshotBrooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press,president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Green-Light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, and How to Sell Your Memoir. She sits on three boards: the Independent Book Publishers Association; the National Association of Memoir Writers; and the Bay Area Book Festival. She blogs for Huffington Post and SheWrites.com.
“Linda Joy and Brooke give such value. I learned that you can take steps that will cut years off the memoir writing process.” —Peggy Thomson, Magic of Memoir 2015

Sunday 6/19 and lots of other tidbits!

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Hi, everyone! Happy almost summer vacation!

Remember that there are no meetings in July and August, but we’re hoping to still bring you some activities so keep an eye out via email, our site and Meetup. We also always want to hear from you, and what you’d like to see happen in our club in the coming year. Because it’s our club. Please send us your feedback and wishlist!

One such activity is the CWC Annual Picnic – it’s July 23rd. This is a members only event, plus our families. It’s a chance to meet members of other branches throughout the state, and just to hang out in a relaxed setting for some fun and celebrating our art. After the picnic, the fun doesn’t stop – there’s an evening ahead of more literary greatness, and it’s open to all so invite your friends and make it a party! Get all you need to know here: https://cwc-berkeley.org/2016/05/23/save-the-date-july-23-gatherings-at-joaquin-miller-park/

Back to what’s currently happening, this Sunday we’ll be getting some tips on shopping for an editor with David Colin Carr. Come hear what he has to say, and come a little early to discuss craft topics and sit in on the marketing group too. It all starts at noon. Details here: https://cwc-berkeley.org/2016/06/01/speaker-619-precisely-what-editors-do-with-david-colin-carr/

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the team that has kept us going this past year and years before. Volunteerism is what keeps us going, we couldn’t have done this without you. And thank you to all who showed up to represent the CWC at the Oakland Book Fair in May, and the Bay Area Book Festival. You can find the highlights here: https://cwc-berkeley.org/2016/05/31/cwc-at-local-book-festivals/

Be sure to read the winners too of our annual 5th Grade Writers Contest. It makes for great summer reading: https://cwc-berkeley.org/2016/06/06/writers-of-tomorrow/

And to introduce our new slate of officers; Karma Bennett – President, Francine Howard – Vice President, Henry Hitz – Treasurer, and David Simmons – Secretary.

As you take some time to consider and share your thoughts, please take the time to renew your membership. Your dues allow the club – locally and statewide – to bring us the valuable resources that you’ve come to expect. It’s still just $45 for the year, $25 for dual members but $65 if you miss the deadline. So, send in your renewal now because we need you to keep our community strong.

Whew! I think that’s everything. Hope to see you Sunday.

Writers of Tomorrow

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Congratulations to the winners of the 30th Annual
CWC 5th grade story contest!

Read “I Survived” by Irene H. O., our first-place winner.

The stories we receive are tremendous, year after year. Read more about our contest winners and check out all of our past winners.

Thank you to member Joanna Phoenix for your wonderful administration of this contest!

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